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Tax season is in full swing, and with it comes a surge in scams targeting tax professionals. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Security Summit partners have issued a warning about a new email scam that impersonates various software companies, aiming to steal Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs). These scams pose a serious threat to both tax professionals and their clients, potentially leading to identity theft and fraudulent tax filings.  

What is the EFIN documentation scam? 

This recently growing scam involves fraudulent emails masquerading as communications from tax software providers. The emails request EFIN documents from tax professionals under the guise of a required verification process to transmit tax returns.  

Unsuspecting victims who fall for this scam risk exposing sensitive client data and their own identities to malicious actors.  

What is the IRS doing to mitigate the threat? 

In response, the IRS is taking proactive measures to educate and protect tax professionals. Special educational webinars begin on February 12th, aimed at providing crucial information and strategies to combat this scam.  

IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel emphasized the importance of remaining vigilant during this busy period, urging tax professionals to prioritize security measures within their practices.  

How active is the EFIN documentation scam? 

The IRS has already received numerous reports of this scam targeting tax professionals. Signs of a potential scam email include requests for EFIN documents via fax, instructions to obtain EFIN documentation from the IRS e-Services site, and inconsistencies in the email wording. Tax professionals who receive such emails are advised not to respond or take any action outlined in the message.  

One example of the fraudulent email includes instructions to fax EFIN documents to a specified number, along with warnings that failure to comply will result in an inability to transmit tax returns: 

Dear [recipient_email_address], 

Help us protect you. 

Because many Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs) are stolen each year and used to file fraudulent tax returns, the IRS has asked software vendors, such as Software A, to verify who the EFIN owner is by getting a copy of the IRS issued EFIN document(s). Our records show that we do not have a document for one or more of the EFINs that you transmit with. 

What this means for you: Until your EFIN is verified, you will be unable to transmit returns. Please provide a copy of your EFIN Account Summary from IRS e-Services, with a status of ‘Completed’, to Software B for verification. 

To send us your EFIN Summary document: 

  1. Fax to Software B at 631-995-5984 

PLEASE NOTE THAT YOUR PREPARER TAX IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (PTIN) APPLICATION CANNOT BE USED AS DOCUMENTATION FOR YOUR EFIN. 

If you do not have the above documentation you can get a copy of your IRS Application Summary from IRS e-Services by following the below steps or call the IRS e-Services helpline at 866-255-0654. 

  1. Sign in to your IRS e-Services account
  2. Choose your organization from the list provided and click Submit
  3. Click the Application link to access your existing application
  4. Click the e-File Application link
  5. Select the existing application link that applies to your organization
  6. Click the Application Summary link for the area of the application you wish to enter
  7. Click the Print Summary link at the bottom of the summary presented on the screen 

If you have any questions please contact the Compliance Department at xxx-xx-xxxx for assistance. 

Thank you for your business. We look forward to serving you this coming season. Software B (edited) 

What will the IRS webinars on the EFIN scam cover? 

Tax professionals are encouraged to attend the upcoming webinars hosted by the IRS, where cybersecurity experts will provide valuable insights and guidance. These sessions will equip professionals with the knowledge needed to identify and prevent potential scams, ensuring the security of their clients’ data and their own identities.  

What else can tax professionals do to avoid becoming victims? 

In addition to attending webinars, tax professionals are advised to remain vigilant against other phishing scams targeting EFINs, PTINs, and e-Services credentials. The IRS stresses the importance of promptly reporting any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities, including the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and local IRS Stakeholder Liaisons.  

As tax-related identity theft scams continue to evolve and proliferate, tax professionals must stay informed and proactive in safeguarding sensitive information. By remaining vigilant and taking proactive measures, tax professionals can help protect themselves and their clients from falling victim to these fraudulent schemes.  

For more information and resources on identity theft prevention, tax professionals can visit the IRS’s Identity Theft Central and refer to Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and stay protected during this tax season and beyond. 

 

Source: IR-2024-36  

Article provided by Taxing Subjects.