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The IRS kicked off its annual Dirty Dozen list of scams targeting tax professionals, taxpayers, and small businesses, warning about the rise of phishing and smishing schemes aimed at stealing sensitive information.

In a news release, the IRS highlighted the evolving tactics of fraudsters and identity thieves, who employ these scams to dupe recipients into clicking on dubious links, divulging personal and financial details, or unwittingly downloading malware onto their devices.

Commissioner Danny Werfel emphasized the relentless nature of scammers, particularly in their efforts to exploit anxieties surrounding tax matters. “Scammers often exploit the IRS to deceive people eager for updates on their refunds or tax issues,” Werfel cautioned.

Originating in 2002, the Dirty Dozen campaign aims to spotlight 12 prevalent scams annually, raising awareness and fortifying defenses against common frauds. While phishing has long been a staple on the list, smishing debuted in 2023, reflecting the shifting landscape of digital deception.

These deceptive messages, whether through unsolicited emails or text messages, aim to lure unsuspecting victims into divulging sensitive data, potentially leading to identity theft. The primary variants are:

  • Phishing: Emails purporting to be from the IRS enticing victims with promises of fake tax refunds or menacing them with fabricated legal consequences for alleged tax fraud.
  • Smishing: Text messages containing alarming language, such as warnings of account suspension or alerts of unusual activity, often accompanied by deceptive links promising solutions. Fraudsters also exploit the prospect of unexpected tax refunds to entice victims.

Contrary to these fraudulent tactics, the IRS underscores that it solely initiates contact with taxpayers through regular mail. It does not employ email, text, or social media for such purposes, particularly regarding bills or tax refunds.

For those encountering phishing or smishing attempts, the IRS directs individuals to its Report Phishing and Online Scams page on, offering guidance on reporting such incidents. Additionally, it recommends leveraging resources like the Federal Communications Commission’s Smartphone Security Checker to safeguard against mobile security threats.

Amid the prevalence of these scams, self-employed individuals, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and freelancers are urged to remain vigilant, as they may be mainly targeted. By staying informed and adopting proactive measures, individuals can better shield themselves and their businesses from falling victim to these pervasive schemes.

Source ( Journal of Accountancy News).