Treasury: Tax Preparers Asked to be Alert for New Email Scheme

Contact: Danelle Gittus (gittusd@michigan.gov), Ron Leix (leixr@michigan.gov) or call 517-335-2167
Agency: Treasury

January 27, 2017

With the individual income tax season kicking off this week, the Michigan Department of Treasury (Treasury) is asking tax preparers to be alert for a new two-part email scheme targeting tax professionals nationwide.

In the two-part scheme, a tax preparer initially receives an email from a potential client asking for services to file taxes. If the preparer responds, the cybercriminal sends a second email with an embedded web address or a PDF attachment with a web address allegedly linking to the taxpayer’s personal information.

In reality, the cybercriminal is collecting the tax preparer’s email address, password and possibly other information. To date, no known Michigan-based tax preparers or tax preparation firms have been victimized through this scheme.

Tax professionals and tax preparation firms are asked to consider creating internal policies or consult security experts on how to address unsolicited emails seeking their services.

As Treasury makes progress in the fight against identify theft, cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated in their efforts to steal additional client information. Criminals need more data in their effort to impersonate clients and file fraudulent returns to claim refunds.

For the 2015 tax year, over 22,100 returns were stopped that prevented more than $11.7 million in potentially fraudulent refunds from being issued by the state of Michigan.

Tax professionals who believe they may be the victim of this phishing scheme should immediately report the incident to local law enforcement and contact Treasury’s Office of Privacy and Security at 517-636-4081.

To learn more about tax preparer security, go to www.irs.gov/protectyourclients.

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