Deadline-day tax scams growing in prevalence, experts say


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – April 15 is the deadline to file tax returns. Some scammers are using the deadline as a way to scare people into clicking on links that will cost them money.

These scammers know tax season can be stressful. They prey on people with various tax-related schemes. This year, with the changes to tax laws, scammers are hoping more folks than ever will fall for their tricks.

One recurring one is the fake IRS robocall. 

One of them begins like this: “This message is to inform you that the IRS is filing a legal warrant under your name for tax fraud, and the investigation team of our department is investigating you and your family.”

The federal government estimates millions have received a scam call like that this year alone. It’s part of a worldwide effort by criminals.

Now, organizations like IBM’s X-Force have spotted this new scam called “Trickbot.”

Consumers and businesses are getting emails that appear to be sent from reputable accounting, tax, and payroll firms or people they may trust like an accountant.

“What they’re waiting for you to do is go to your bank account,’’ said Caleb Barlow, vice president of threat intelligence for IBM security. “They’re going to capture your credentials as you log into your bank account.”

With just one click, criminals have access to a person’s computer because the emails also come with attachments that can infect your device with malware.

“Unfortunately, people still click on emails and links that they’re not familiar with or shouldn’t be doing, which is why these tricks still work and are still out there,’’ said Etay Maor with IBM.

Security experts said there’s a way to spot a fake email in the address line. Barlow said the “Trickbot” email will have an address of “dot-email” instead of “dot-com.”

So, take a good, close look at any emails received before thinking about opening it.

Scammers are hoping a little social engineering and scare tactics can go a long way in conning people.

Also, remember that the real IRS never contacts anyone by phone or email. It will only send communications out via the mail.

The IRS said scams using its name are on the increase this year and have many variations.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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