RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Tax season is not here yet but crooks are already sending out phony emails hoping to get your personal information, and possibly take your money. We talked to the Department of Treasury about what you need to know if one of these phony emails pops up in your email box.
"I am hoping that less and less people are scammed by these individuals," said Special Agent Brown with the Department of Treasure.
He says scammers are always on the prowl.
"Your bank account can be emptied out if you provide the information that some of these websites request," he said.
Brown looked at an email we got form a viewer claiming to be from the IRS. The subject line reads -- "Your Federal Tax Payment ID has been Rejected." It then wants you to click a link that looks like an official IRS payment site; The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or EFTPS. Brown says it's a fake and full of red flags. For instance, it's sent from a personal email account, in this case Gmail, and there are grammatical errors.
"They send out emails hoping to obtain your personal information, banking account numbers, even down to your mother's maiden name and your pin numbers to your account," said Brown.
If you get one of these emails and you suspect something fishy, the first thing you want to remember is don't click any links, the second thing you want to do is forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"What they do is blast these emails out and just hope -- if you send out a million and you get 10 percent that is a pretty good return," Brown explained.
It's important to remember the IRS will never initiate communication through an email or request any personal information like passwords or bank account numbers.
A quick visit to the real IRS website, IRS.gov, will give you more helpful tips about scams like this one and information on how to protect yourself.
Gray Hall: Are these scams becoming more elaborate?
Brown: " I wouldn't say they are more elaborate, they basically still request the same information. I would just say to the public just to be vigilant."
Brown says its usually the elderly that fall victim to these scams because they are not as computer savvy. However, he warns even if you don't consider yourself elderly, some of these crooks are good and you should never let your guard down.
"They are gambling that you are going to bite on their bait they are putting out there," he said.
Special Agent Brown says another tip is to simply pick up the phone and call the IRS if you have any questions about an email, phone call, or letter. You can also forward suspicious e-mails to the Federal Trade Commission at: email@example.com or contact them at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338). To reach the IRS you can call 1-800-829-1040.