Did you receive an email advising that TurboTax Online is currently unavailable?
If you did, it’s a scam. It’s one of many circulating this tax season targeted towards taxpayers. Other similar scam emails suggest that inactivity has led to a deactivation of your TurboTax account or that your refund cannot be deposited because of a problem with your bank account. You’ll see them, like all phishing scams reported to Intuit, posted at Intuit’s Online Security Center.
The email looks something like this:
These kinds of emails are generally phishing scams. With a phishing scam, an email or a fake website poses as a legitimate site in order to get you to disclose your personal or financial information. Don’t be a victim: don’t follow links from these e-mails to websites where you might be asked for personal information.
Julie Miller, a spokesperson for Intuit, said about the emails, “Intuit takes the security and privacy of our customers’ information very seriously. We’ve seen an increase in phishing and other email scams since the start of the tax season and we continue to alert and educate consumers about this growing problem. We post all known phishes to our online security center and urge consumers who receive a suspicious email not to open it and to report it immediately to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Intuit also offers the following advice if you receive such an email:
- Do not open the attachment in the email.
- Send a copy of the email to email@example.com.
- Do not forward the email to anyone else.
- Delete the email.
In addition to those steps, Intuit also offers the following tips in order to help you protect yourself from future phishing attacks:
- If you suspect you have received a phishing email from Intuit, please forward it immediately to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will look into each reported instance.
- Make sure you subscribe to an anti-virus software and keep it up-to-date.
- Make sure you have updated your web browser to one that includes anti-phishing security features, such as Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox version 3 or higher.
- Make sure that you keep up to date on the latest releases and patches for your operating systems and critical programs. These releases are frequently security related.
- Do not respond to emails asking for account, password, banking, or credit card information.
- Do not open up an attachment that claims to be a software update. We will not send any software updates via email.
- Do not respond to text messages or voicemails that ask you to call a number and enter your account number and pin.
- Make sure you have passwords on your computer and your payroll files.
In February of last year, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen released a statement urging taxpayers to be wary of clicking on strange emails and websites, warning, “They may be scams to steal your personal information.” This was a follow-up to a warning Koskinen issued the prior year, saying, “These schemes jump every year at tax time. Scams can be sophisticated and take many different forms. We urge people to protect themselves and use caution when viewing e-mails, receiving telephone calls or getting advice on tax issues.”
Tax-related identity theft is a huge industry. Expect to see more efforts by scammers as tax season continues. A good rule of thumb: when in doubt, assume it’s a scam. Rather than answer questions via email or phone related to your tax returns or finances, contact the company (whether TurboTax or IRS) directly using a trusted number or website.
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