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Texting scams on the increase, warns IRS

Posted on October 25, 2022

Being on the alert for identity scams is as important as ever, in large part because the types of thefts constantly shift. That’s one reason the IRS is warning taxpayers of a recent sharp uptick in IRS-themed texting scams – all aimed at stealing personal and financial information.

Be on alert for smishing. Yep, that’s a real term from the IRS. Smishing is defined as using fraudulent domains tied to multiple MMS/SMS/text scams targeting taxpayers. Smishing is phishing on steroids – thousands of people can be conned with the touch of a button.

In recent months, IRS-themed smishing has dramatically increased.

What to know:  Smishing campaigns target mobile phone users. Mobile scam messages look like they’re coming from the IRS, offering lures like fake COVID relief, tax credits or help setting up an IRS online account.

In the latest activity, the scam texts often ask taxpayers to click a link where phishing websites will try to collect their information or potentially send malicious code onto their phones.

If you have received these scams, do NOT respond back to the text. Instead, the IRS asks that you report them to phishing@irs.gov. Reporting IRS-themed texts to the IRS allows security professionals to track and disrupt these scams. Individuals reporting scam texts to the IRS should include both the body of the message and the sender’s information in one email or text.

How to report IRS-related smishing
The IRS maintains an inbox, phishing@irs.gov, to process IRS, Treasury and/or tax-related online scams only. (Smishing involving other agencies and/or brands should not be reported to the IRS.)

The following process will help capture important details for reporting smishing to the IRS:

  • Create a new email to phishing@irs.gov.
  • Copy the caller ID number (or email address).
  • Paste the number (or email address) into the email.
  • Press and hold the SMS/text message and select “copy”.
  • Paste the message into the email.
  • If possible, include the exact date, time, time zone and telephone number that received the message.
  • Send the email to phishing@irs.gov.

In addition to reporting the scam to phishing@irs.gov, if IRS-related, report the message to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration using their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting form and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) through their Complaint Assistant to make the information available to investigators.

All incidents, successful and attempted, should also be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

Teipen CPA Group wants you to know that the IRS does not send emails or text messages asking for personal or financial information or account numbers. The best offense is a good defense. Remain vigilant and skeptical. For more information, check out Identity Theft Central on IRS.gov or call us for assistance.