Emails from Hell: How to Spot and Avoid Email Scams during Tax Season

Email Scams

Tax season can be a stressful time for many people, and unfortunately, cybercriminals take advantage of this vulnerability by using email scams to steal personal information and money. These scams can come in the form of fake tax refunds, phishing emails, and even fraudulent IRS notifications. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of email scams you may encounter during tax season and how to spot and avoid them.

What are the types of Email Scams during Tax Season and How to Spot Them?

1- Fake Tax Refund Scams

One of the most common email scams during tax season is the fake tax refund scam. 

Imagine this: you open your email, and there it is – a message claiming to be from the IRS, promising a tax refund. You may feel excited or even relieved, but wait! 

Cybermonsters know how to play with our emotions and use them to their advantage. This is just one of the most common scams during tax season. These scammers may include a link or attachment that will take you to a fake website resembling the IRS website, tricking you into revealing your personal information. But don’t let these cyber monsters fool you! You have the power to protect yourself. Remember, the IRS will never initiate contact with you via email. Be cautious of unsolicited emails, and always verify the authenticity of the email by going directly to the IRS website. 

Don’t let these scams get the best of you. Activating to be Intentional, Aware, and Mindful can help you stay one step ahead of the cybercriminals and keep your personal information safe.

Phishing Scam

2- Phishing Scams: How Hackers Reel You In

Phishing scams are one of the most common email scams. The scammers use email to lure you into giving up your personal information, such as your username and password, credit card number, or Social Security number. They may ask you to click on a link that takes you to a fake website that looks like a legitimate one. Once you enter your information, they have access to your data.

Phishing is also a common email scam during tax season. These emails may appear to be from a trusted source, such as a bank or tax software company, and will ask for personal information such as social security numbers, bank account information, or passwords. To spot a phishing email, look for misspellings or grammatical errors, and hover over any links in the email to see if they lead to a legitimate website. If you suspect an email is a phishing attempt, do not respond or click on any links.

Below are more specific forms of targeted phishing emails. 

Spear Phishing Scams: Why You’re a Target

Spear phishing is a more targeted form of phishing. The scammers do their research and gather information about you to create a more personalized email that appears to be from a legitimate source. They may even impersonate someone you know or do business with to gain your trust.

Business Email Compromise Scams: The Cost of Deception

Business email compromise (BEC) scams are also known as CEO fraud. In these scams, the attacker impersonates a high-level executive, like a CEO or CFO, and sends an email to an employee requesting a wire transfer or sensitive information.

Ransomware Attacks: Don’t Let Them Hold You Hostage

Ransomware is a type of malware that infects your device and encrypts your files, making them inaccessible. The attacker then demands a ransom in exchange for the decryption key.

Malware Attacks: Protecting Your Devices from Infection

Malware attacks are another common type of email scam. Malware is a type of software that is designed to harm your device or steal your information. It can be delivered via email as an attachment or a link.

Fraudulent IRS Notifications

3- Fraudulent IRS Notifications

Cybercriminals may also send fraudulent IRS notifications, claiming that the recipient owes money to the IRS or has a tax lien against them. These emails may also include a link or attachment that leads to a fake website designed to steal personal information. To spot a fraudulent IRS notification, be wary of unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS, and always verify the authenticity of the email by visiting the IRS website directly.

Real-Life Examples of Scams

To further illustrate the importance of being vigilant against email and tax scams, let’s take a look at some real-life examples.

The CEO Fraud Scam

Imagine that you are Jane, a marketing executive working for a major corporation. One day, you receive an email from the CEO of your company, who is currently out of town on a business trip. The email is marked as “urgent” and requests that you wire transfer a large sum of money to a foreign bank account as soon as possible.

At first, you feel flattered that the CEO has personally reached out to you for help. You don’t want to disappoint your boss, so you quickly follow the instructions in the email and transfer the funds.

It’s only after the transfer is complete that you realize something is amiss. You receive an email from the real CEO, who is surprised to hear that you have wired money to a foreign account. You then realize that the email you received earlier was actually a cleverly crafted phishing email from a cybercriminal.

This is known as the CEO Fraud Scam, and it’s one of the most common email scams in the business world. The cybercriminals behind this scam use a variety of tactics to make their emails look legitimate, such as using similar email addresses, urgent language, and even the correct logos and branding of the company.

To avoid falling victim to this type of scam, it’s important to always be wary of urgent or unexpected requests for money or sensitive information. Always verify the authenticity of the email by checking the sender’s email address, contacting the supposed sender through a different channel, or consulting with a colleague or IT professional. By staying vigilant and cautious, you can help protect yourself and your company from falling prey to cybercriminals.

The IRS Phone Scam

The IRS Phone Scam

It was a sunny afternoon, and Samantha was enjoying a cup of tea in her backyard when her phone rang. The caller ID showed “IRS” and Samantha’s heart sank. She had just filed her taxes and couldn’t imagine what could be wrong.

The voice on the other end was stern and authoritative, claiming to be an IRS agent. The agent informed Samantha that there was an issue with her tax return and that she owed a substantial amount of money. Samantha felt her palms sweat, and her heart raced as the agent threatened her with legal action if she didn’t pay immediately.

In a panic, Samantha asked how she could pay, and the agent demanded that she pay using a prepaid debit card. Samantha felt uneasy about this but didn’t want to face any legal issues. So she went to the store and purchased a prepaid card with her savings, as the agent had instructed her.

Samantha felt relieved after she paid the alleged IRS agent, but her relief was short-lived. It turned out that the call was part of a common IRS phone scam that preys on vulnerable taxpayers like Samantha. It was too late to recover her money.

This scam has tricked thousands of taxpayers, and Samantha’s story is just one of many. It continues to be a common tactic used by cybercriminals to trick people into paying fake tax bills.

Below are the 3 simple ways to How Avoid Email Scams during Tax Season

1- Be Intentional to Keeping Your Personal Information Safe

  • One of the best ways to avoid email scams during tax season is to keep personal information safe. This includes not sharing personal information over email or on social media, as well as creating strong passwords and changing them regularly.
  • Keep your computer and devices up today so all the holes and vulnerabilities are covered. 
  • Installing antivirus software can help protect against email scams by detecting and blocking malicious software or websites. It’s important to keep antivirus software updated and to run regular scans to ensure that your system is protected.

2- Be Aware and Verify the Source

  • Always verify the source of any email claiming to be from the IRS or a tax software company. This can be done by visiting the official website of the organization and checking for any notifications or updates. Cultivating our awareness and getting up today with the latest type of scams can help us stay ahead of the Cybermonsters. The IRS issued a warning recently for scams involving Form W2 encouraging people over social media platforms  to use tax software to manually fill out the bogus tax return electronically in hopes of getting a substantial tax return.   

3- Be Mindful of Unsolicited Emails or phone calls

  • Be wary of any unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS or a tax software company, especially if they ask for personal information or include links or attachments. When we stay present and mindful, we can take action to verify the authenticity of the email before responding or clicking on any links. 
  • Beware of Phone Scams: Know the Signs, Phone scams are also prevalent during tax season. Scammers may call you and claim to be from the IRS, demanding payment or threatening legal action.
  • Pause, breathe and then take action
Email and tax scam

Email and tax scams are serious threats that can lead to financial loss, identity theft, and other negative consequences. By learning how to spot and avoid these scams, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to cybercriminals.

Although Tax Hackers, Scammers, and Cybermonsters are always coming up with new tactics to steal our money and personal information, we can take action and be proactive and be fully present when we use our technology. We don’t need to become easy prey. 

Now that you know the red flags of email and tax scams, let’s discuss some actionable tips and tricks to help you protect yourself.

  1. Avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources. When in doubt, hover your mouse over the link to see the full URL before clicking. If the link looks fishy or unfamiliar, don’t click it. You can also read my article to learn more how to test ia link is safe without clicking on it. 
  2. Keep your security measures up-to-date. This includes your antivirus software, firewalls, and operating systems. Make sure to regularly install updates and patches to stay protected against the latest threats. Read 
  3. Don’t share your personal information over email or phone, especially if you didn’t initiate the communication. Always verify the identity of the sender or caller before sharing any sensitive information.
  4. If you receive a suspicious email or phone call, report it immediately. You can contact the FTC, the IRS, or your bank to report the scam and get advice on what to do next.
  5. Stay informed about the latest scams and tactics used by cybercriminals. You can sign up for alerts and updates from trusted sources such as the IRS, the FTC, or your bank to stay up-to-date on the latest threats. Sign up to our weekly newsletter at 

In summary, protecting yourself from email and tax scams may require some effort, but it’s well worth it to avoid the headaches and financial losses that come with falling for a scam. Stay safe online and don’t let Cybermonsters take advantage of you! Remember to keep personal information safe, verify the source of any emails, be wary of unsolicited emails, and install antivirus software. By taking these steps, you can enjoy peace of mind during tax season.

Be Intentional. Aware, and Mindful. Be I AM!

You may also like to read :- 5 Common Cybersecurity Risks You Face When Traveling and How to Protect Yourself –

Uncovering the Hidden Risks of Social Media | Sandra Estok

Live Happily Ever Cyber!

Sandra Estok, CEO and Founder of Way2Protect | Happily Ever Cyber!

Sandra Estok

Subscribe for more ways to protect what matters most to you against hackers, scammers, and Cybermonsters™

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *