Scam Alert: Significant Increase in Texting Scams

To date, the IRS has identified and reported thousands of fraudulent domains tied to multiple text scams, known as smishing, targeting taxpayers. Recently, IRS-themed smishing has increased significantly. As such, taxpayers are reminded to be on the lookout for scams and schemes that could put sensitive tax data at risk – especially this latest IRS-themed texting scams aimed at stealing personal and financial information.

How smishing text scams work:

Campaigns target mobile phone users, and the scam messages often look like they’re coming from the IRS, with fake messages known as “lures.” These fake text messages typically offer COVID relief, tax credits, or help setting up an IRS online account. In the latest smishing activity, the scam texts ask taxpayers to click a link or call a telephone number where criminals will collect their personal or financial information.

Taxpayers are reminded that the IRS does not send emails or text messages asking for personal, financial information or account numbers.

How to report IRS-related smishing:

The IRS maintains phishing@irs.gov to process complaints tied to IRS, Treasury, and tax-related online scams. Recipients of these IRS-related scams should report them to the IRS via email: phishing@irs.gov.

Reporting text scams allows the agency to report the scams to the appropriate security professionals to track and disrupt these scams. Taxpayers should not report smishing involving other agencies or brands to this email address.

If you have received a smishing text scam, take the following steps to capture and report the details of the IRS-related smishing text:

  1. Create a new email to phishing@irs.gov.
  2. Copy the caller ID number or email address.
  3. Paste the number or email address into the email.
  4. Press and hold the SMS/text message and select “copy.”
  5. Paste the message into the email; screenshots can be sent if necessary.
  6. If possible, include the exact date, time, time zone, and telephone number that received the message.
  7. Send the email to phishing@irs.gov.

Recipients can also copy and forward scam SMS/text messages to wireless providers and send the text to 7726 (SPAM). This helps the provider spot and block similar messages in the future.

Finally, anyone receiving any scamming incident – successful and attempted – should also report these incidents to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.