Finance News & Insights

Scam alert! IRS warns against new ID theft ploy

Received an email from IRS? Here’s why you want to urge staffers to delete it ASAP.

Naturally your company takes tax compliance seriously. So when one of your finance staffers finds an email regarding EFTPS payments in his or her in-box, your company should pay attention, right?

Wrong.

Turns out that’s the latest scam being used by fraudsters to steal sensitive information and people’s identities, warns IRS in a recent announcement.

Here’s what you need to make sure every finance staffer on your team knows.

Emails very convincing

Warn employees: The e-mail will look legit. It will come from an alleged IRS employee (real or made up), complete with name, address, etc.

The motivation to get you to click? That there’s a problem with a tax payment or return. Specifically, says IRS, scam artists are currently claiming problems with the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

What happens next varies:

  1. “IRS” will request personal info, such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, PINs, etc. Chances are, your seasoned finance staffers won’t fall for this. They should know better than to provide such sensitive info to anyone, especially via email.
  2. The email will contain a link or attachment to click to what appears to be the IRS web site or an IRS form. And that’s where even well-meaning staffers could get into trouble. No one wants to risk ignoring a message from IRS, so just to satisfy their curiosity, they might be tempted to click the link. But by then the damage is done – malware has been loaded on a company computer!

Considering that even IRS acknowledges how authentic the emails appear, it’s understandable how someone could mistakenly fall for the scam.

Opens the door to newest type of fraud

Unfortunately, that could expose you to the newest type of payments fraud: corporate account takeover. That’s when, after gaining access to sensitive financial info, crooks move money and cause large losses in a very short window of time.

Fourteen percent of your peers fell victim to that fraud in 2010, according to the Association for Financial Professionals.

By sharing this new IRS alert, you can keep your company and its sensitive financial info safe. Remind everyone on your team that IRS never communicates via email regarding tax return and tax payment issues … the Service has said so itself.

To read the official IRS warning, click.

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