Tax email, text scams to watch out for

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Tax scams to watch out for
The I-Team is finding that well-executed emails and texts can easily trick people into falling prey.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- While the federal tax deadline was extended to May 17, it's still the season for tax scams.

In the Money Fix, The I-Team is finding that well-executed emails and texts can easily trick people into falling prey.

A local security firm shared real-looking examples of deceitful tax messages with the I-Team. They reveal just how sophisticated fraudsters are when trying to trick people at tax time.

We're all eager to get our tax refunds and crooks count on those emotions to get you to turn over your personal information, your W2 forms, or your banking information.

Fake links coming from spoofed emails can reel you in by telling you your refund is ready and they can get you to download malware embedded in malicious links.

"They come to lure the victims to think that the email and website are run by the IRS so people will be willing to either provide their personal information or click the links and open the attachment," said Ziv Mador, VP of Security Research for Trustwave. "Typical stories are 'you are eligible for a tax refund, please provide your bank account information so we can transfer the money to your bank account.'"

Mador of Chicago's Trustwave says another tax-scam example is an email that looks like it's from the IRS and asks the person to attach their W2 for to update their records. Your W2 has all sorts of sensitive personal information scammers want to get their hands on.

One way to spot a fake is to look at the reply-to field you'll notice that the address isn't the official address.

Mador has also seen these emails sent to business's finance and human resources departments, falsely stating they are from the company's CEO, asking for those W2'S

"They try to target an entire organization and ask for the W2 forms of many people in that company or organization. And if they are successful then they get W2 forms for dozens of people," Mador said. "We tell them to be very vigilant."

The IRS warns that thousands of people have lost millions of dollars to these scams. They want people to know that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text or social media but contacts people through the US mail.