The IRS has just issued a warning about the latest tax scam. In a November 19 press release, the Agency warns, “of a surge of fraudulent emails impersonating the IRS and using tax transcripts as bait to entice users to open documents containing malware.”

The scam involves a well-known malware, known as Emotet. The IRS tax scam warning went on to say that, “this scam is especially problematic for businesses whose employees might open the malware because this malware can spread throughout the network and potentially take months to successfully remove.”

Typically, an Emotet attack masquerades as a specific bank or financial institution, in its effort to trick people into opening infected documents.

However, in the past few weeks, the scam came disguised as the IRS, pretending to be from “IRS Online.” The scam email carries an attachment labeled “Tax Account Transcript” or something similar, and the subject line uses some variation of the phrase “tax transcript.”
These clues can change with each version of the malware. Scores of these malicious Emotet emails were forwarded to phishing@irs.gov recently.

The Summit partnership of the IRS, state tax agencies and the nation’s tax industry remind taxpayers to watch out for this scam.

What to Do If You Receive Such a Suspicious Email

The IRS reminds taxpayers it does not send unsolicited emails to the public, nor would it email a sensitive document such as a tax transcript, which is a summary of a tax return. The IRS urges taxpayers not to open the email or the attachment. If using a personal computer, delete or forward the scam email to phishing@irs.gov. If you see these using an employer’s computer, notify the company’s technology professionals.

Other Scams

This new scam comes on the heels of the rise in telephone tax scams and “phishing” scams we have been reporting on throughout the year. Other ongoing scams that the IRS warns about include:

  • Scams advertising “free money” from the IRS
  • Scams involving Social Security
  • Scams involving fake charities

You can see a complete list of all the tax scams the IRS has warned about, and what you can do to avoid them, or if you believe you have become a victim, by visiting the agency’s consumer alerts.

We remind you that the IRS will never contact you about any tax matter by phone or email first. They will always send a letter by US mail. Still, if you receive any letter about a tax bill and you are not sure if it is real, contact our offices. We would be glad to help you verify if it is authentic, and/or help you resolve the matter if it is a legitimate concern.

Compliance with and understanding the difference between scams and legitimate income tax problems, can be complex. If you would like to benefit from our expertise in these areas, or if you have further questions on this Advisory, do not hesitate to contact our Tax and Accounting Specialists, or call us at 1-800-239-1474.