CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning taxpayers to be aware of an email scam claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service that targets consumers’ financial information.
“Tax season is in full swing and so are scammers who are busy trying to steal your personal information,” Morrisey said. “These emails tell consumers that they are eligible for a refund and can be very believable. Consumers need to approach any email like this with caution.”
Morrisey said the email often has a subject line that reads “Tax Refund Notification.” The sender claims to be from the IRS and says the consumer is entitled to receive a tax refund. The consumer is directed to a third-party website, where he or she is asked to provide vital personal and financial information.
“Consumers should never share personal or financial information with anyone via email or unsolicited phone call. If the IRS needs to reach you, they will do so through official means, such as a letter,” Morrisey said. “Also it is wise to never click on a link embedded in an email unless you are absolutely sure the email and its author are legitimate.”
The IRS also is warning consumers about the scam on its website. The website states: “These e-mails usually are scams whose purpose is to ... commit identity theft. Identity thieves use the data to empty the victim's financial accounts, run up charges on the victim's existing credit cards, apply for new loans, credit cards, services, or benefits in the victim's name, file fraudulent tax returns and more.”
Morrisey said consumers should view any email offering prizes, rewards, or even a tax refund with a degree of skepticism.
“It’s understandable that everybody wants a tax refund, but this scam will turn a big refund into a big regret,” he said.
Morrisey said consumers and businesses should follow these safety tips if they receive an unsolicited email offering a tax refund:
- Do not click on any links or reply to the message.
- Completely delete the message from your inbox.
- Run a full virus scan on your computer if you did click on any links.
- Report your unsolicited email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Morrisey reminded consumers that the IRS sends millions of notices and letters to taxpayers for a variety of reasons. However, the IRS will not contact people by email or social media to ask for personal or financial information.