2 New IRS Scams: Beware Tax Professionals and Affordable Care Act Recipients
Hot on the heels of the raid in India of call-centers operating a phone scam targeting US taxpayers, the IRS is now warning of two other scams—this time targeting tax professionals and customers of the Affordable Care Act, or more colloquially known as Obamacare. The first, targeting tax preparers and other tax professionals, comes in the form of an email asking them to update their account information and directing them to a fake website. The fake website, which appears to be a legitimate e-services registration page, then collects the information entered by the individual and provides that information to the scammer. Sometimes, the emails even look like official IRS communications, including an IRS logo and an e-services logo. This personal information is then used to file false tax returns, steal identities, or other crimes. Even though this process—also known as ‘phishing’—is a variation of a prior scam, it has seen a 400% surge in incidents during the 2016 tax season.
The second, targeting customers of the Affordable Care Act, is related to the open-enrollment period and bills for already enrolled customers. The procedure varies depending on the target. Senior citizens are specifically targeted during the open-enrollment period through phone calls or emails stating that Medicare is issuing new Medicare cards, and requiring personal information, such as a social security number, to have a new Medicare card issued. Both during and outside of the open-enrollment period, already enrolled customers are targets of bill-related scams. These scammers typically employ a fake email purporting to have an attached IRS tax bill related to the Affordable Care Act, or specifically a CP2000 notice.
Some red flags to watch out for include:
- Receipt of an email from the IRS, especially representing that money is owed. The IRS will only send a notice by mail.
- Instructions to make a payment to the “I.R.S.” or some other deviation of the Internal Revenue Service. Any payment of federal taxes is made to the U.S. Treasury.
- An electronic CP2000 notice, especially if issued from an Austin, Texas address.
Recipients of either of these scams should not open any attachments or provide any personal information. Instead, forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org and then delete it.
Tax season is quickly approaching. Better stay on your guard, or 2017 may not be a good year.
–By Tony Nasser, Esq., Barnes Law
Tony Nasser is an attorney licensed to practice law in California.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.