IRS and TurboTax Fake (Phishing Scam) Emails

Fake IRS website, set up by scammers to steal your info.
Fake IRS website, set up by scammers to steal your info. | Source

Phishing has been a huge problem online for over a decade.  One of the most recent phishing attacks making a big splash these days is a series of IRS and Turbo Tax phishing emails. 

These emails claim to have been sent by the IRS or by Turbo Tax.  They may say that there is a problem with your refund, or that your refund will be more than you initially expected, or that you actually owe the IRS money.  Some emails claim that there is a problem with your reported income from the previous year.  Others ask that you fill out a customer satisfaction survey.  Or it may simply claim that there is a “problem with your IRS account.”

One series of successful phishing emails claims that you are being investigated by the IRS for filing a false claim in a state where you do not live.  These emails use your own fear of the IRS against you!

TurboTax phishing fraud emails follow the same pattern.  Many of them tell you that you need to download a Turbo Tax update in order to be compliant with new IRS rules.  When you click through to download the supposed “update,” you end up downloading a virus instead.

All of these emails look very legitimate.  In the case of the IRS scam, they send you to a website which looks exactly like the real IRS website

What Is Phishing?

A phishing email is one which pretends to be from an official agency, be it the IRS or your bank.  The email urges you to click on a link, then log into the website it takes you to.  The website is often identical to the “real” site, but it is a fake site operated by scammers.

In order to log in, you have to give your username, password, and often some other key information like your Social Security Number or a credit card number.  The scammers take this information and hijack your real accounts, commit identity theft, credit card fraud, and more.

How Do I Know If This Is A Real IRS Email Or TurboTax Email?

If it is an email which claims to be from the IRS, then it is fake.  In their own words, “The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email.”  The IRS will definitely never ask you to confirm your SSN, PIN, passwords, or other information through email.

The same goes for TurboTax.  TurboTax will never ask you to download an update through an email message.  They will never ask for your password, username, SSN, credit card information, or any other personal information through an email.  TurboTax will never email you asking you to download an update to your software.

What Can I Do About An IRS Phishing Email?

If you are still unsure about whether or not the email you have received from the IRS is legit, go directly to IRS.gov (by typing the address into your browser – NOT by clicking the link in your email!).  You can log into the IRS from there, and get contact information if you need to call them.

But please know that if the iRS needs something from you, they will send you a letter in the mail. 

To report an IRS phishing email, you can contact the IRS’s online fraud department at http://irs.gov/privacy - just click the link on the left-hand side that says “Report Phishing.”

What Can I Do About A TurboTax Phishing Email?

If you are still unsure about whether or not the email you have received from TurboTax is legit, go directly to TurboTax support at http://turbotax.intuit.com  (by typing the address into your browser – NOT by clicking the link in your email!). You can log into your TurboTax account from there, and get contact information if you need to call them.

To download updates for your TurboTax, open the software and go to Online -> Check For Updates. Or better yet, set it up so that it will update itself automatically.

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