It's bad enough being contacted by the IRS about a potential audit or an ongoing investigation. But in some ways it's even worse when scammers and various bad online actors send bogus e-mails purporting to be from the IRS. These scammers attempt to use the IRS name - or even its logo - to trick people into revealing personal information.
Armed with that information, the scammers proceed to commit identity theft or other financial crimes. The IRS is aware that this is a significant problem and is warning taxpayers about it.
The name for the particular scam involved is "phishing." It usually tries to get e-mail recipients to reply to the message, open attachments or click on links.
You should therefore not do any of those things if you suspect an e-mail is bogus. Do not reply to it. Do not open attachments. Do not click on links.
What can go wrong? Well, if you click on attachments, those attachments could infect your computer with malicious code. Similarly, clicking on links could take you to websites that ask you to enter personal or financial information - which can then be stolen.
When you receive e-mails purporting to be from the IRS, keep in mind that agency's policy is to not make contact with taxpayers through e-mail or social media seeking personal information or financial account details. Moreover, the agency does not ask for PIN numbers or account passwords.
It's also important to realize that the official IRS website has a domain name that ends in .gov. It does not end in .com, .net or any other variation.
Source: "Beware of Bogus IRS Emails," IRS.gov
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