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Beware of IRS scams via e-mail this tax season

Beloved tax season is here, and the scams that go with it are underway.

The IRS said 1,026 incidents were reported nationally in January, up from 254 a year earlier.

One person in Wichita reported losing $6,900 this year in an IRS scam.

The e-mails sent by criminals frequently ask taxpayers to update important information by clicking on a link. When people click on links from IRS scam e-mails, they’re directed to fake government websites and prompted to enter their personal information, such as Social Security numbers.

Links from scam e-mails direct people to fake government websites and prompt them to enter personal information, such as Social Security numbers.

Some of the sites also carry malware, which infects the computer and allows criminals to access files and track keystrokes.

The IRS also reported receiving calls from tax professionals who received phishing scams about their online credentials.

Sharon Werner, chief attorney for the Sedgwick County Consumer Protection Division, said the division hasn’t seen any IRS scams unique to the Wichita area this year. She said most consumers in Sedgwick County reported being contacted by phone by someone claiming to be with the IRS.

The division received 111 calls about IRS scams between Jan. 1 and Feb. 9, Werner said. She said it received a total of 435 IRS scam reports last year.

111 IRS scams reported to the Sedgwick County Consumer Protection Division so far this year

435 IRS scams reported to the Sedgwick County Consumer Protection Division last year

“Now when we’re getting the calls, fewer and fewer people are reporting they paid, but wanted to report they received it and realized it was a scam,” she said.

However, Werner said one consumer in Sedgwick County reported paying an IRS scammer $6,900 this year.

“I think it’s highly unlikely in any of these instances that anyone gets their money back,” she said. “They’re probably all from out of state, if not out of country.”

Werner said she advises people to approach calls with suspicion because caller ID can be manipulated. She said it’s best to hang up and call the agency or company you’re trying to speak with by looking up the official phone number on your own.

“It’s always easier to hang up and check if you owe money than if you pay and then try to check if you owe money,” Werner said.

It’s always easier to hang up and check if you owe money than if you pay and then try to check if you owe money.

Sharon Werner, chief attorney for the Sedgwick County Consumer Protection Division

Overall, don’t give out information if you didn’t initiate the interaction, either over the phone or online.

If you think you might be the victim of a scam, call the Sedgwick County Consumer Protection Division at 316-660-3653. To report an e-mail scam to the IRS, e-mail phishing@irs.gov.

Gabriella Dunn: 316-268-6400, @gabriella_dunn

Terms used in recent IRS scam e-mails

▪ Tax refunds

▪ Update your filing details

▪ References to W-2

▪ Confirm your personal information

▪ Get my IP PIN

▪ Get my E-file PIN

▪ Order a transcript

▪ Complete your tax return information

Source: U.S. Internal Revenue Service

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