There are so many phishing scams out there, some hilariously obvious and others frighteningly real-looking. CPA firms are not immune to receiving these emails (and phone calls). Here are a couple of examples:
- I have received "account update" emails from the "IRS" almost daily, telling me that my IRS e-services account will be suspended if I don't update it. I never got these in past years. Why is this happening now? Because the IRS is now requiring certain information from that account to be provided annually to software providers who serve as an electronic filing "back office" for tax preparers like me. Without this information, the scammers will not be able to set up their fake e-file credentials, and they will be out of business (for now). These emails look pretty real until you scroll over the hyperlink and see where they are actually sending you.
- Today I got a beauty from "Intuit' about my TurboTax account. Um, I have no use for one of those, but maybe you do. This one was also pretty real-looking and said my 2016 refund would be delayed if I didn't click the link and update the information. Again, the hyperlink said I would be directed to TurboTax.com but the actual web address was different (although the long string did reference Intuit) when I scrolled over it.
- Bank accounts have also been popular targets for this type of scam. I can't tell you how many times Bank of (insert bank name here) has told me there is a problem with my account that required immediate action. Exactly zero times it was true.
The best action to take when you receive one of these emails is to delete it and move on with your life. But if you are remotely worried about your account, access your account ON YOUR OWN through the website you normally use and know to be legitimate. DO NOT click the link! Then you can check the account status and delete the email.
The same rule applies for any emails that tell you to call a phone number to verify your account...call the number you normally use and know to be legitimate, and verify that way. Do not call the number on the email!
One final note: The IRS will not call you. They will not email you. 99.9% of the time they will write to you via snail mail as a first line of communication (the other .1% they will show up in person, but that's a topic for another blog post). The only people who will call you from the IRS will already have an established relationship with you, like in the case of an IRS agent working with you on an ongoing collections matter.
As always, we are here to help if you have questions!