People are getting emails from a source claiming to be from the IRS, and it warns recipients that they have received a penalty for not submitting a tax return by the specified deadline. It then invites them to click a link to apply for an exemption.
The email IS NOT from the IRS, and the claim that recipients are subject to a tax penalty is untrue. The message is a phishing scam designed to trick recipients into divulging personal and financial information to cybercriminals via a fake IRS website.
The email tells recipients they have been given a penalty for failing to submit a tax return by a “deadline” specified as January 31, 2012. Recipients are warned that they could face a monetary penalty of $10,000 for the supposed late submission.
Recipients are also advised that may receive an exemption from the penalty by proving that their late submission was based on “ample grounds”. The message includes a link that people can follow to “find more information” about applying for the exemption.
The message is not from the IRS, and the claim that recipients are subject to a penalty for late submissions is a lie designed to trick them into clicking the included link.
Those who click the link will be taken to a bogus website designed to resemble a genuine IRS webpage. The bogus page will ask them to provide detailed personal and financial information as a means of proving their case and thereby receiving an exemption. All information supplied on the bogus website will be sent to criminals and may subsequently be used to commit financial fraud and identity theft.
The IRS has published information about such phishing scams on its website and notes:
- The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or any social media tools to request personal or financial information
- Criminals have repeatedly used scam emails that falsely claim to be from the IRS as a means of tricking people into divulging their private information.
- Similar scams have also targeted taxpayers in several other countries, including Australia, Canada, the UK, South Africa and India.
Be very cautious of clicking links or opening attachments in any email that claims to be from the IRS or Kentucky State Treasury. Email scammers regularly use tricks like these to gain new victims.