IRS Warns of New Scam Targeting Tax Pros

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Aug 11, 2021
GettyImages-174879501 IRS Internal Revenue Service

The IRS, in its never-ending war against fraudsters, warned tax professionals of a new phishing scam that has been targeting them specifically. 

In this latest iteration, scammers pose as potential clients, exchanging several emails with tax professionals before following up with an attachment that they claim is their tax information. Once the professional opens the attachment or clicks on the URL, a malware program is secretly placed on their computers, which gives the scammers access to passwords to client accounts or remote access to the computers themselves. Once in, they then take over the computer systems, usually through remote access trojans, to identify pending tax returns, complete them and e-file them, changing only the bank account information to steal the refund.

The IRS said this scam was popular, as many tax professionals worked remotely and communicated with clients over email versus in-person or over the telephone because of COVID-19.

"Identity thieves have been relentless in exploiting the pandemic and the resulting economic pain to trick taxpayers and tax professionals to disclose sensitive information," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Fighting back against phishing scams requires constant vigilance, and we urge tax pros to take some basic steps to help protect their clients and themselves."

To help tax professionals guard against phishing scams and better protect taxpayer information, the IRS recently updated Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data PDF. The July 2021 version contains some of the latest suggestions such as using the multi-factor authentication option offered by tax software products and helping clients get an Identity Protection Pin.

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