The IRS has issued a warning to taxpayers and tax professionals about a new phishing scam specifically targeting Hotmail users in which scammers posing as the IRS attempt to steal personal information which can be used for purposes of identity theft. The email’s subject line reads “Internal Revenue Service Email no. XXXX.” The email indicates that your unexplained request is being processed and prompts the targeted victim to sign in on a phony website that asks for personal and financial information. This particular phishing email has been limited to users of Hotmail, but similar phishing emails can be expected to use other email providers.
It is important to remember that the IRS will not initiate contact with anyone through email. If you receive such an email and have any thought that it might be legitimate, you should merely call the IRS where you can confirm that it is a scam. Often you can immediately determine that the email is phony merely by looking at the email address of the sender which may have no relation to the IRS, but be the address of an innocent victim whose computer was hacked and made a part of a botnet to send out large numbers of phishing emails. Other times the email address may even appear to be from the IRS, but email addresses can be “spoofed” and appear to be legitimate when they are not. Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.