Since 2003, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance have been putting their focus on Cybersecurity awareness during the month of October. But, unfortunately, it’s a jungle out there in terms of the daily threats we face in our digital world. While some scams are obvious, some are very inventive or new, and it can be very easy to fall victim as we busy ourselves with our daily lives and jobs.
An influx of smishing (sending text messages to attempt to induce individuals to reveal personal information) campaigns began in 2020, preying on taxpayers who were inundated by digital information about COVID relief; these scams rose significantly in 2022. The newest scams continue to attempt to steal personal and financial information by sending out urgent requests disguised as official short message services (SMS) or texts. So far this year, the IRS has reported thousands of fraudulent domains linked to numerous text scams. Texts often look as if they are coming from the IRS, with some credible information included in the message offering COVID relief, tax credits, or assistance getting set up with an IRS account online. Often, they will attempt to send a malicious code to your
The most recent messages ask taxpayers to click a link or call a number. From there, an attempt to collect personal information will take place. Remember that the IRS never asks for personal, financial, or account-related information by text.
You can report these attacks by email to email@example.com, or by text to 7726 (SPAM). Include this information to help end these attacks:
- Include the caller ID number or email address of the sender.
- Copy the text message verbiage by holding down the message to select, then paste the words into an email. Screenshots are acceptable.
- If possible, add the date, time, time zone, and phone number that received the message.
The IRS also published a handy video to learn more about preventing smishing.
It is always wise to be cautious when a company or entity asks you to submit personal information. If you doubt the credibility of an email, text, or phone communication, look for the official website on an authorized document or their confirmed website and call to ask about its legitimacy. Visit the IRS’s information page for more on reporting IRS-related online scams.