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Susan Tompor: IRS: Tax refund fraudsters already had much of that Equifax stolen data

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Or phishing emails can appear to be from a top executive at a company who is demanding that someone at the same company forward a list of W-2 information.

Or maybe a phishing email looks like it's being sent by a taxpayer to a tax professional.

A simple mistake -- such as a quick click on a link or a rushed response -- can lead to a rash of problems.

One new scam: The cyber criminal targets tax professionals by impersonating a cloud-based storage provider.

Without thinking, the tax professional quickly provides their email credentials, including a username and password. But unfortunately, that information helps fraudsters unlock a list of email addresses for clients.

The second step -- and one that consumers must pay attention to here -- the crooks then send phishing emails to individual taxpayers.

Taxpayers receive a phishing email that looks like it's from their tax own professional and, as part of some new scams, the email has a fake IRS insurance form attached to it.

The text might read: "Dear Life Insurance Policy Owner, Kindly fill the form attached for your Life Insurance or Annuity contract details and fax back to us for processing in order to avoid multiple tax bills."

Anyone who falls for this one can end up sending a fax -- or email in some cases -- directly to the fraudsters. And the criminal ring then attempts to take out a loan or withdraw money directly from the annuity or life insurance policy.

The IRS said crooks are more frequently showing a sophisticated knowledge of the tax code and practices in the tax preparation industry.

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