[COLUMN] IRS warns tax preparers of new email scam

A COMBINED task force of IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry is warning tax professionals of attempts to steal Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs) with new scam email that impersonates the IRS.

The latest scheme that arrived just before the start of the tax season targets tax professionals who prepare your tax returns.

The thieves steal client data that will allow them to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds.

The latest scam email identifies itself as “IRS Tax E-Filing” and carries the subject

“Verifying your EFIN before e-filing.” How creative.

These thieves also pose as potential clients, an especially effective scam. The thief may interact repeatedly with a tax professional and then send an email with an attachment that claims to be their tax information.

But that attachment contains malware that allows the thief to track keystrokes and eventually steal passwords or take over control of the computer systems.

What follows can be the dreaded ransomware scheme in which the thief gains control of the tax professionals’ computer systems and holds the data hostage until a ransom is paid.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned against paying a ransom because thieves often leave the data encrypted.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig stated that scammers go on a hunting season during filing season.

He added that scammers have become very active and very creative.

Phishing scams are the most common tool used by identity thieves to trick tax professionals into disclosing sensitive information of their clientele.

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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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