Over the last several months, our firm has been receiving a substantial number of calls from clients in a panic because they had received an email notification from the Internal Revenue Service “IRS” stating that their filed tax return will be subject to an audit. The words “IRS” and “audit” are enough to ruin anybody’s day. The IRS will never initiate taxpayer contact via an unsolicited e-mail. All initial contacts are made via US Mail. In addition, the IRS does not use e-mail to discuss cases or to solicit sensitive personal financial information from taxpayers. If this happens to you, the official IRS website (www.irs.gov) has specific instructions on reporting suspicious e-mails or other unsolicited contacts for personal information. The above applies to most government entities including but not limited to the California State Board of Equalization, California Franchise Tax Board, etc.
The IRS website also has some helpful hints on how to spot an e-mail scam. Many e-mail scams are fairly sophisticated and hard to detect. Here are signs from the IRS to watch for if you receive a suspicious e-mail: • Requests detailed or an unusual amount of personal and/or financial information, such as name, SSN, bank or credit card account numbers or security-related information, such as mother’s maiden name, either in the e-mail itself or on another site to which a link in the e-mail sends the recipient. • Dangles bait to get the recipient to respond to the e-mail, such as mentioning a tax refund or offering to pay the recipient to participate in an IRS survey. • Threatens a consequence for not responding to the e-mail, such as additional taxes or blocking access to the recipient’s funds. • Gets the Internal Revenue Service or other federal agency names wrong. • Uses incorrect grammar or odd phrasing (many of the e-mail scams originate overseas and are written by non-native English speakers). • Uses a really long address in any link contained in the e-mail message or one that does not start with the actual IRS Web site address (http://www.irs.gov). The actual link’s address, or url, is revealed by moving the mouse over the link included in the text of the e-mail.
For those who have received a questionable e-mail claiming to come from the IRS you may forward directly to IRS. The information will assist the IRS track the suspicious e-mail to its origins and ultimately help shut down the scam. Please don’t hesitate to give dbbmckennon a call or email, to discuss any of your concerns or if you are actually subject to an IRS, California State Board of Equalization, California Franchise Tax Board, etc. audit.