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IRS Tax Auditor Using the IRS as a cover, cybercriminals have begun targeting individuals through emails, phone calls, and even text messages. The scam revolves around fake CP2000 forms sent to victims that claim the income reported on their tax return does not match up with the income reported by their employer. To cause added confusion and concern, the phoney tax agent informs the victim that this is somehow tied to the Affordable Care Act.

The goal of this particular scam is to convince the victim to make a payment to the IRS to clear up the discrepancy through an email link, revealing personal information to the cybercriminal in the process. Individuals who choose to pay this “tax bill” are not only out however much money it was claimed that they owed, but have now opened themselves up to identity theft.

There are numerous red flags that pop up immediately when these cybercriminals make contact with a potential victim. First and foremost, while CP2000 forms are of course very real, and something that the IRS will send out as needed, these forms are only ever sent to recipients through the mail. The IRS will never send tax bills as an email attachment.

Second, the IRS will never contact you by email or by phone to demand payment, or force you to settle a supposed debt without extensive prior notice, and an opportunity to question or appeal the amount you’ve been told you owe. An IRS agent will never ask you to give out banking or credit card information over the phone, or insist that you use a specific payment method to settle a tax bill. You will never receive an email or phone call asking you to verify your identity by revealing personal information.

If you receive one of these notices, do not respond. Don’t open any attachments, and don’t click any embedded links. Hang up on suspicious callers. If you receive an actual physical copy of a CP2000 that you are not completely convinced is legitimate, you can reach the IRS directly at 1-800-366-4484 to confirm that it is in fact a scam. Fake emails can be forwarded to phishing@irs.gov. The IRS is aware that this scam is happening, and will handle the situation for you.

It’s easy to get rattled when the IRS comes knocking, but don’t let yourself be taken advantage of because this threat happens to be hiding behind a government facade. Always use caution when it come to your personal information. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Don’t ever hesitate to ask questions. Cybercriminals are counting on human gullibility to get what they want. Don’t make it easy for them.

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