The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry are warning tax pros and their clients of late-season phishing e-mail scams, especially those requesting last-minute deposit changes for refunds or account updates.

As the season winds down, various tax-related scams are peaking, the IRS said, as cybercriminals use sophisticated scams to trick people into divulging sensitive data.

One new scam involves phony taxpayers asking their preparer to make a last-minute change to their refund destination, often to a prepaid debit card. The IRS urges preparers to verbally reconfirm information with a client should they receive last-minute e-mail request to change an address or direct deposit account for refunds. Tax professionals should also change and strengthen their own e-mail passwords to protect e-mail accounts used to exchange sensitive data with clients.

Taxpayers should also learn to recognize phishing e-mails, calls or texts that pose as familiar organizations such as banks, credit card companies, tax software providers or the IRS. These scams generally urge taxpayers to give up sensitive data such as passwords, Social Security numbers, and bank account or credit card numbers.

Taxpayers who receive suspicious e-mails purporting to be from a tax software provider or from the IRS should forward them to phishing@irs.gov and never open an attachment or link from an unknown or suspicious source.

Phishing emails survey chart

The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mails or request sensitive data via e-mail. The Security Summit initiative also maintains a public awareness campaign for taxpayers and for tax professionals.

Jeff Stimpson

Jeff Stimpson

Jeff Stimpson is a veteran freelance journalist who previously served as editor of The Practical Accountant.