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Better Business Bureau ®
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Alaska, Oregon & Western Washington
Don't Take the Bait: Avoid Getting Duped by Tax 'Phishing' Scams
February 12, 2013

With the tax deadline approaching, fraudsters and phishers are increasingly taking aim at unsuspecting Americans. Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington warns filers about one of the most common tax phishing schemes: Scammers sending bogus emails to dupe people into revealing private information.

The Internal Revenue Service says scammers often masquerade as legitimate tax preparers or government agents promising unbelievable refunds or claiming problems with tax returns. Phishing emails:

  • Ask for replies to “verify” personal information.
  • Include hyperlinks that redirect to scam websites with fake forms or harmful computer viruses.
  • Contain malicious attachments.

Watch for red flags when analyzing correspondence.

  • Unsolicited requests: The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media.
  • Used logos: Scammers regularly hijack company logos or agency seals to appear official; be skeptical of distorted or discolored images.
  • Unusual language: Phishers are more likely to use unorthodox grammar and spelling; keep an eye out for obvious mistakes.
  • Unknown links: Fraudsters enclose hyperlinks with coded Web addresses, which usually lead to dangerous sites.
  • Unexpected attachments: Financial institutions will not send attachments unless it’s for specific requests.

Report phishing attempts to the IRS at or BBB also offers more identity theft prevention tips.

Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington is one of 113 in North America and the largest BBB by geographical service area. BBB is a neutral not-for-profit public reporting agency committed to trust in the marketplace. For more information on ethical business standards and BBB Accreditation, or to access free BBB Business Reviews, Charity Reviews, scam alerts or find local event information, contact BBB or visit