[COLUMN] IRS warns tax preparers of new email scam

SCAMMERS become more active during tax filing season — their hunting season. The prey: your own tax preparer who has troves of social security numbers, birthdays and bank account numbers.

Thieves from the dark web have become more active again this 2021 tax filing season.

The IRS warns tax pros not to respond to the email. The body of the bogus email states:
In order to help protect both you and your clients from unauthorized/fraudulent activities, the IRS requires that you verify all authorized e-file originators prior to transmitting returns through our system. That means we need your EFIN (e-file identification number) verification and Driver’s license before you e-file.

Please have a current PDF copy or image of your EFIN acceptance letter (5880C Letter dated within the last 12 months) or a copy of your IRS EFIN Application Summary, found at your e-Services account at IRS.gov, and Front and Back of Driver’s License emailed in order to complete the verification process. Email: (fake email address)

If your EFIN is not verified by our system, your ability to e-file will be disabled until you provide documentation showing your credentials are in good standing to e-file with the IRS.

Tax professionals who received the scam should save the email as a file and then send it as an attachment to phishing@irs.gov. They also should notify the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at www.TIGTA.gov to report the IRS impersonation scam.

Both TIGTA and the IRS Criminal Investigation division are actively fighting to stem this scam.

Like all phishing email scams, it attempts to bait the receiver to take action (opening a link or attachment) with a consequence for failing to do so (disabling the account). The link or attachment may be set up to steal information or to download malware onto the tax professional’s computer.

Thieves ask tax preparers to email documents that disclose their identities and EFINs to the thieves. The thieves then use this information to file fraudulent returns by impersonating the tax professional.

Tax professionals should familiarize themselves with phishing scams that seek EFINs, Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) and e-Services usernames and passwords.

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Victor Santos Sy, MBA. CPA (Retired)
Victor Santos Sy graduated Cum Laude from UE with a BBA and from Indiana State University with an MBA. Vic worked with SyCip, Gorres, Velayo (SGV – Andersen Consulting) and Ernst & Young before establishing Sy Accountancy Corporation.
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He retired after 50 years of defending taxpayers audited by the IRS, EDD, BOE and other governmental agencies. He published a book on “How to Avoid or Survive IRS Audits” that’s available at Amazon. Readers may email tax questions to vicsy@live.com.

Victor Sy, CPA, MBA (retired)

Victor Santos Sy, MBA. CPA (Retired) Victor Santos Sy graduated Cum Laude from UE with a BBA and from Indiana State University with an MBA. Vic worked with SyCip, Gorres, Velayo (SGV – Andersen Consulting) and Ernst & Young before establishing Sy Accountancy Corporation. * * * He retired after 50 years of defending taxpayers audited by the IRS, EDD, BOE and other governmental agencies. He published a book on “How to Avoid or Survive IRS Audits” that’s available at Amazon. Readers may email tax questions to vicsy@live.com.

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