IRS sees 'surge' of email phishing scams

The IRS said Tuesday that it has seen a "surge" in reports of tax-related email phishing scams, warning taxpayers to be on the lookout so that their information and refunds are not stolen by identity thieves.

The agency said that it received reports of more than 2,000 tax-related scam incidents from January through October, while it received about 1,200 reports of incidents in 2017. The recent increase in reports of phishing scams follows several years of declines in reported incidents, the IRS said.

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The phishing attacks involve scammers using emails or websites to get taxpayers to provide them with their personal, tax and financial information. Scammers will often pose in their emails as people that the recipients think they can trust, the IRS said.

The IRS said taxpayers can protect themselves against phishing and other tax scams by not opening links from suspicious sources, using software to protect against viruses contained in phishing emails and by having strong passwords.

“Watch your inbox for these sophisticated schemes that try to fool you into thinking they’re from the IRS or our partners in the tax community," IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said in a news release. "Taking a few simple steps can protect yourself during the holiday season and at tax time.”