WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service on Wednesday warned taxpayers of a recent uptick in IRS-themed texting scams aimed at stealing personal and financial information.
According to the agency, IRS-themed text messaging scams, known as smishing, have increased “exponentially” in recent weeks, targeting cellphone users with scam messages that appear to originate from the IRS.
Some of the most common recent smishing attempts have offered everything from fake COVID-19 relief funds or tax credits to help setting up an IRS online account.
Any taxpayer who suspects that they have been targeted by an IRS-related smishing attempt are advised to report the activity to email@example.com.
IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig called the recent wave “phishing on an industrial scale,” meaning thousands of people could be at risk of receiving scam messages.
“In recent months, the IRS has reported multiple large-scale smishing campaigns that have delivered thousands – and even hundreds of thousands – of IRS-themed messages in hours or a few days, far exceeding previous levels of activity,” he clarified.
According to the agency, the latest scam texts often ask taxpayers to click a link, but doing so can take people to phishing websites that either attempt to collect personal information or potentially send “malicious code” to their phones.
“The IRS does not send emails or text messages asking for personal or financial information or account numbers. These messages should all be red flags for taxpayers,” the IRS stated.
Meanwhile, the agency offered the following step-by-step instructions for reporting a suspected smishing attempt:
- Create a new email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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 email@example.com.
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