Every year, there seems to be an increasing number of phone calls, e-mails, and text messages impersonating the IRS. One particular e-mail scam has been infecting users with malware under the guise of downloading a tax transcript or tax return summary. If downloaded, it leaves your computer vulnerable to data breaches and can quickly spread to other computers connected to your network. Optima Tax Relief reviews how to identify, avoid, and report this particular IRS impersonation scam.

How to Spot the Scam

The malware being used in this scam has been around for some time. Known as Emotet, it typically comes in an email designed to look as though it’s coming from a bank or other financial institution. Recently, scammers have modified these emails to give them the appearance of being sent from the IRS. “IRS Online” is one of the most common sender names being used in this scam. And while “IRS Online” may sound official, it’s actually a scam email. In fact, you can safely assume any email claiming to be from the IRS is a scam. That’s because the IRS never contacts taxpayers via e-mail. If the IRS needs to contact you, they’ll do so by sending you a letter through the U.S Postal Service.  

Another telltale sign of this scam is its attachment. Often deceivingly labeled “Tax Account Transcript” or something similar, it poses as an official tax document, such as a summary of your tax return. When a user opens the attachment, their computer becomes infected. And if the user is connected to a network, the malware can quickly spread throughout their entire network. This scam is particularly concerning for businesses that have sensitive and valuable data stored on their servers. And because the malware is rather sophisticated, it can be very expensive and time-consuming to remove. 

Optima Tax Relief Reviews How to Report

This “tax account transcript” scam is just one of numerous phishing scams that are reported each year. If you happen to receive this e-mail or one like it, do not open the e-mail or download the attachment. Instead, forward the e-mail to phishing@irs.gov so that the IRS can be made aware of the types of scam e-mails being circulated. If you have opened the e-mail, and especially if you’ve opened its attachment, you’ll probably want to consult with a technology professional to ensure that the malware is properly and completely removed before using your computer again.  

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