Phishing scams have compromised the personal information of thousands of taxpayers already this year, the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday.
During the first five months of this year, 177 tax preparers or firms reported data thefts, the tax agency said.
The IRS is also receiving three to five digital data theft reports each week from tax practitioners, many of them the result of email phishing scams, the IRS said.
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The announcement came as part of an IRS campaign warning tax prepares to be wary of phishing scams in which hackers con their targets into clicking on malicious links. The IRS is partnering with state tax agencies on a 10-week series of educational news releases focused on phishing awareness titled “Don’t Take the Bait.”
Scammers commonly use people’s personal information to file taxes before the real taxpayer does and collect the refund.
“We’ve been warning tax professionals that they are increasingly the targets of national and international cybercriminal rings, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a statement. These syndicates are well-funded, knowledgeable and creative. It’s going to take all of us working together to combat these identity thieves.”