If You Get an Email From the IRS With These 3 Words, Don't Click on It

The IRS is warning you about a new tax refund scam.

If you've already filed your tax return, despite the deadline being delayed, we commend you. And we also imagine you're probably checking your bank account nonstop to see if you've gotten your refund. According to the IRS, you should get your refund within 21 days of filing your taxes, so if you find yourself waiting longer, you might be concerned. There are many reasons for a delayed refund check, the IRS says on its website—maybe your return is incomplete, it includes errors, or it needs further review. But if you're eagerly awaiting your refund, the IRS is now warning you not to fall victim to an email scam that's become rampant. Read on to learn which email from the "IRS" you shouldn't open, and for more government boosts in the future, check out This Is How Your Fourth Stimulus Check Would Be Different From the Others.

If you get an email, purportedly from the IRS, with the subject line "Tax Refund Payment," don't click on any links inside.

A woman opening up a scam email
Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

On Mar. 30, the IRS released a statement warning of an IRS-impersonation scam. According to the agency, if you're waiting for your refund, you should be on the lookout for emails with the IRS logo and varying subject lines that contain the words "tax refund payment"—two of them being simply "Tax Refund Payment" or "Recalculation of your tax refund payment."

These emails are prompting people to click a link and submit a form, claiming they could receive their refund by completing the email's instructions.

And for another scam going around lately, If You Get This Message From Pfizer, Don't Respond, Officials Say.

The fraudulent website requests your personal taxpayer information.

a man looks confused at a paper, computer
fizkes / Shutterstock

Unfortunately, the form is just an attempt for scammers to get your information. The IRS warns that the "phishing website"—the one you're redirected to if you follow the email's instructions—asks for personal information like your social security number, driver's license number, and electronic filing information.

Other personal details requested in the scam are your first and last name, date of birth, prior year annual gross income, current address, and your electronic filing pin.

And for more scams to avoid, check out If You See This Message on Your Roku, Report It Immediately, Experts Say.

The scam appears to be targeting college students and professors.

stressed college student near books
Tom Wang/ Shutterstock

While anyone is susceptible to the scam, it "appears to primarily target educational institutions, including students and staff who have '.edu' email addresses," the IRS says.

Complaints sent to the IRS' phising@irs.gov account in recent weeks have been from college students "from both public and private, profit and non-profit institutions," the warning notice explains.

And for more helpful tips sent directly to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

If you've mistakenly fallen for the scam, here's what you need to do.

IRS website, american flag background
Sharaf Maksumov / Shutterstock

If you've accidentally fallen for the scam and revealed your personal details on that phishing website, the IRS urges you to promptly obtain an Identity Protection PIN. "This is a voluntary opt-in program. An IP PIN is a six-digit number that helps prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns in the victim's name," the IRS says.

Additionally, if you do happen to obtain this fraudulent email, you can report it to the IRS. To do so, just save the email with the "save as" button and send it as an attachment to phishing@irs.gov. Both the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and IRS Criminal Investigation are aware of the scam.

If you have yet to be fooled by this email and are awaiting a tax refund, the IRS says the best thing to do is simply check the IRS.gov website and follow the prompt that reads: Where's My Refund?

And if you've not yet filed your taxes, but are anticipating a COVID-relief check, check out If You're Waiting on a Stimulus Check, Read This Before Filing Your Taxes.

Filed Under