IRS warns against new ransomware phishing scam

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WASHINGTON (WIFR) – The IRS is warning people about a new phishing scam that impersonates the FBI and IRS that aims to hold sensitive computer data hostage.

Scammers are sending misleading emails that use the IRS and FBI emblems asking users to take a questionnaire. Once the link to the questionnaire is clicked, ransomware is downloaded to the computer that holds the user’s data hostage unless they pay the scammer a particular amount of money.

“This is a new twist on an old scheme, said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “People should stay vigilant against email scams that try to impersonate the IRS and other agencies that try to lure you into clicking a link or opening an attachment. People with a tax issue won’t get their first contact from the IRS with a threatening email or phone call.”

The IRS, state tax agencies and tax industries are partnering under the name Security Summit to run a campaign called Don’t Take the Bait. This campaign aims to warn professionals about phishing scams.

If you receive such an email, don’t pay a ransom as this encourages the scammers to continue their craft. Instead, the email should be reported to the FBI and the email should be forward to phishing@irs.gov.
The IRS doesn’t use email, social media, or text messages to handle personal tax issues.