Phishing scams always hover near the top of tax scam lists, but this year they rose to the apex of IRS' tax scams list. These attempts to get hold of taxpayer personal information occur year-round, but the IRS saw a big spike in phishing and malware incidents during the last tax season.
Phishing attempts typically arrive via unsolicited email or a fake website that looks remarkably like the real one. When the targeted victim answers the email or enters in valuable personal and financial information online, the criminals have enough to steal the person's identity and ruin his or her financial life.
Tax phishers usually pose as an IRS representative. Don't fall for it. The IRS doesn't send unsolicited emails to taxpayers. Neither does it seek personal information via other electronic avenues, such as text messages and social media channels.
If you get suspicious communications purporting to be from the IRS, ignore them. But do let the tax agency know by forwarding suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. The IRS works with federal law enforcement to shut down the bogus websites and track down the criminals who created them.
Get a guestimate of taxes owed with Bankrate's 1040 Tax Estimator.