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IRS' Perspective on Phishing

Phishing is not a leisure activity where you spend an afternoon on the lake with friends and family.

On January 24, 2012 we published an article here titled "Phishing Scams," which has since drawn a lot of attention. Also, the IRS recently published a tax tip titled “Don’t Be Scammed by Cyber Criminals,” which goes to show you how big of a problem “phishing” and other identity theft methods have become. The notice confirmed the fact that the IRS doesn’t use email as a regular mode of communication to deliver notices of deficiency, request for additional information, etc. The IRS prefers to correspond with taxpayers in written form.

Some scammers have used the IRS logo in a fraudulent manner, hoping to trick their intended victims into thinking they’ve received legitimate correspondence. Official IRS logos look like this:

Here are five things the IRS wants you to know about phishing scams:

1. The IRS never asks for detailed information like PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for credit card, bank or other financial information.

2. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. If you receive an email claiming to be from the IRS or directing you to an IRS site, you should not:
  • Reply to the message.
  • Open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
  • Click on any links. If you have done this and entered confidential information, visit the IRS website and enter the search term ‘identity theft’ for more information and resources to help.
The address of the official IRS website is www.irs.gov. Do not be confused or misled by websites claiming to be the IRS but ending with “.com,” “.net,” “.org,” or any designations instead of “.gov.” If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS, but you suspect it is bogus, do not provide any personal information on the suspicious site and report it to the IRS.

If you receive a phone call, fax, or letter in the mail from an individual claiming to be from the IRS but you suspect they are not an IRS employee, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate need to contact you. Report any bogus correspondence. You can forward a suspicious email to [email protected]

You can help shut down these schemes and prevent others from being victimized. Details on how to report specific types of scams and what to do if you’ve been victimized are available at www.irs.gov. Click on “phishing” on the home page.

Of course, the best thing you can do is be vigilant about this so that you don’t become a victim in the first place. There’s nothing more important than safeguarding your financial well-being and personal identity. Check out this IRS webpage for further information on this very important topic:


-By Marvin Rotenberg and Jared Trexler



Thursday's Slott Report Mailbag

Consumers: Send in Your Questions to [email protected]

Q: I stumbled onto you through a Morningstar newsletter which indicated you saying that I could turn my old 401(k) account into a Roth IRA. I checked your website and found the following in the FAQs.
Can I convert my IRA or employer plan to a Roth IRA?All funds in traditional IRAs, SEP IRAs, and employer plans such as 401(k)s are eligible to be converted to a Roth IRA. Funds in a SIMPLE IRA can also be converted AFTER the SIMPLE account has been open for two years. A conversion before that date will be subject to a 25% penalty tax on the amount withdrawn AND the funds are not eligible for transfer to any other type of plan except another SIMPLE. To do a conversion of employer plan funds, you must be eligible to take a distribution from the plan.