How to avoid IRS texting scams

It’s sad, but texting scams have become part of life. Some are ham-fisted and easy to recognize. Maybe you’ve seen a few like these. “You’ve won a major award!” Yeah, right. “Your package is pending.” Uh-huh. “This is your bank, and we are closing your account.” That one always generates an eye roll.

As we’ve become savvier at dodging some of the old tricks, scammers have found new ways to gain your attention. One of the latest is to pretend they are the IRS. Various IRS texting scams, called smishing, are on the rise. Here’s how to avoid this potent little trick.

First, take a deep breath

Getting any kind of message can be daunting if you aren’t used to dealing with the IRS. You’ve always been told (and it’s been mentioned in this blog) to respond to all IRS inquiries quickly. And that’s true unless the first IRS contact is made via text or email. According to their website, the IRS does not send emails or text messages asking for personal or financial information.

But what if the text message is authentic?

It isn’t. But it’s easy to remain nervous about ignoring an overture from the IRS. Scammers know this. That’s why these smishing techniques are successful and on the rise. So even though you can rule out any text message from the IRS asking for information, here are a few signs to recognize a text scam.

Some of the more popular scams offer some sort of COVID relief or offer to set up an online account for you. Others offer tax credits. Most of them contain a link for you to click. All of them ask for personal or financial information like account numbers. If you see one of these red flags you can be sure it is a scam. Then, it’s time to report the crime.

Reporting IRS texting scams

It’s essential to report these scams to the IRS. Doing so allows them to keep taxpayers up to speed on the latest smishing techniques. It also helps security officials to disrupt scammers.

There are a few different ways to report IRS smishing attempts. You can email and include the caller ID number, email address, and the text message itself. You can also send a screenshot of the message. Include the date, time, time zone, and telephone number. To help your wireless service provider block future attempts, you can copy and forward the message in a text and send it to 7726 (SPAM). So, no matter how compelling a text message regarding the IRS may be, avoid the temptation to react. The only action needed is to report the incident, ignore the text, and move on. Check out the IRS YouTube channel.