June 15, 2024

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), along with its Security Summit partners from various state tax agencies and tax preparation firms, issued an alert on Thursday about a new phishing scam unfolding this tax season. In this scam, emails, supposedly from tax software providers, are seeking the tax preparer’s Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN).

The fraudsters portray themselves to be tax software providers and ask for EFIN documents from advisers, conning them into believing that these documents are necessary for sending tax returns. After obtaining the EFIN documents, they attempt to steal data from clients and identities of tax preparers, thereby facilitating the filing of illicit tax returns for refunds.

As part of its measures to safeguard tax professionals, the IRS is scheduling a series of informational webinars specifically for the tax community. These sessions commence on Feb. 12 and will continue throughout the week.

“The filing season is often utilized by scammers to target tax professionals and taxpayers in a bid to seize information that could aid in filing fraudulent tax returns,” IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel opined on Thursday. “Recently, the IRS, along with Security Summit partners, noticed an uptick in an EFIN scam email targeting professionals. This scam is a sobering reminder to tax professionals to prioritize strong security measures in their practice, such as maintaining caution about incoming emails that guise as official messages. A tad bit more caution can make a significant difference for tax professionals amid this hectic period.”

Danny Werfel, IRS Commissioner, addressing the AICPA & CIMA National Tax and Sophisticated Tax Conference in Washington, D.C.

The IRS has reportedly received numerous reports about the scam aimed at tax professionals. The fraudulent email comes with a U.S.-based area code for sending the EFIN documents by fax and provides guidance on procuring EFIN documentation from the IRS e-Services site in case the number is not available. Notable indications of the scam include various fax numbers for different software vendors and irregularities in the email’s verbiage, along with a German footer attached to the email.

The IRS advises tax professionals who receive such emails to stay away from responding to them or following any steps mentioned in the email.

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Webinars in the pipeline

In order to promptly address the scam, the IRS plans to conduct special webinars for tax professionals next week. During these webinars, the agency’s cybersecurity experts will share valuable insights.

Tax professionals who wish to attend these sessions can register by clicking on the provided date/time. Slots are limited and, unfortunately, no continuing education credits will be offered for these webinars: