According to recent reports, scammers have once again started targeting cryptocurrency owners — this time by impersonating the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
With the IRS reportedly sending out tax notices to some 10,000 cryptocurrency holders, it appears that scammers have taken the opportunity to send out notices of their own.
Fortunately, it seems the issue isn’t too widespread, with just a handful of reports surfacing. With that said, if you have received a recent letter, here’s what you need to know.
Shots in the Dark, Most of the Time
According to the report by Forbes, a number of people have received letters claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or a bogus agency such as the ‘Bureau of Tax Enforcement’.
Additionally, based on recent community reports, the letters appear to come in a variety of different ‘flavors’, indicating that more than one illicit organization is attempting similar scams. These letters usually attempt to dupe recipients into paying so-called ‘unpaid taxes’ or a fine, while threatening legal action or worse if they don’t pay up promptly.
As of yet, it is unclear exactly how the scammers are able to target cryptocurrency holders, though it may be the result of a database leak or cookie syncing.
Although the majority of these scams do not contain personally identifiable information and are essentially a shot in the dark, some take it a step further. In some cases, these letters will contain facts about real debts, which are likely obtained from public sources but can make the letter seem less suspect.
How to Spot a Fake Letter
Although the letters are often pretty convincing, there are a number of differences that make them relatively easy to spot if you know what you are looking for.
Thankfully, Forbes also provided a detailed list of tips to help those that may have received a dubious letter verify its authenticity, the major ones include;
- Government letters will typically arrive in an official government envelope with an IRS seal.
- An official letter will usually include your tax reference number or a truncated version of it.
- Bonafide letters will not make any specific threats of deportation or arrest, and will not immediately issue a fine on the first warning.
- Genuine IRS letters will contain details on how to contact the IRS, along with information about your rights as a taxpayer.
Interestingly enough, Forbes also notes that some letters attempt to extract payment in the form of iTunes and other gift cards. They also warn that phone scams are still prevalent, with unscrupulous individuals impersonating tax and other authorities to dupe taxpayers out of their hard-earned money.
Have you received a suspicious letter claiming to be from the IRS? Let us know the details in the comments below and don’t forget to report it to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org.