TULSA - With the tax filing deadline looming large the IRS says crooks are trying to get people to panic and hand over personal information under threat of trouble with your return.
Thousands of reports come in every year from taxpayers who receive emails claiming to be from the agency. Many appear authentic because the actual IRS logo is used or the return email address appears to be legitimate.
The IRS says do not ever reply to a message because the agency will not ever initiate contact with a taxpayer via email.
Do not click on any links or open any attachments because you could allow a virus to infect your computer and mine personal information you don't even know you're handing over.
The IRS offers these five key points the agency wants you to know about phishing:
1. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or social media channels to request personal or financial information;
2. The IRS never asks for detailed personal and financial information like PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts;
3. The address of the official IRS website is www.IRS.gov
Do not be misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or anything other than .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 their site and report it to the IRS;
4. 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. Forward a suspicious email to email@example.com
5. You can help the IRS and other law enforcement agencies shut down these schemes. Visit the IRS.gov website to get details on how to report scams and helpful resources if you are the victim of a scam. Click on "Reporting Phishing" at the bottom of the page.