Outsmart Email Scams in 3 Simple Steps

There’s no doubt you’ve seen an email touting a too-good-to-be-true offer in your inbox every now and then. Random pleas from mysterious people who need your help recovering inheritances they promise to share with you probably makes you shake your head and hit delete.

But what do you do when an email says it’s from the IRS and claims you’re about to be audited by the Criminal Investigation Division? You follow these steps:

1. Stop and think. You’ve never given the IRS your email address in relation to your tax return. Even if you had, the government does not initiate requests for personal information such as your bank account, credit card, or Social Security numbers via email.

2. Contact the IRS. Without clicking on any links or responding to the email, forward the entire message to phishing@irs.gov. The IRS is continuously working to investigate and shut down online fraud. Note that you may not get a response from the IRS when you report IRS scams.

3. Delete the e-mail. Besides the audit scam, other common email tax schemes include additional money due, bogus government grants and requests for you to check the status of your refund.

Tax scams never die. Before you react to any communication from — or purporting to be from — the IRS, stop and review the facts. If it seems suspicious, it’s probably for a reason.

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