IRS Warns of an ‘Exponential’ Increase in Texting Scams

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Woman receiving a scam text
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The IRS has a new warning for taxpayers: A surge in texting scams is putting personal and financial information at greater risk.

This year, the agency has uncovered thousands of fraudulent websites that are connected to text-messaging scams often referred to as “smishing” or “SMS phishing.”

The scams have increased over the course of 2022, but have especially surged in the last few weeks. In fact, the IRS says the fraud has “increased exponentially” recently.

In a Sept. 28 press release, Chuck Rettig, IRS commissioner, says:

“This is phishing on an industrial scale, so thousands of people can be at risk of receiving these scam messages. In recent months, the IRS has reported multiple large-scale smishing campaigns that have delivered thousands — and even hundreds of thousands — of IRS-themed messages in hours or a few days, far exceeding previous levels of activity.”

A smishing scam often involves text messages that appear to be coming from credible organizations such as the IRS in an attempt to trick people into providing financial or other personal information. These texts may advertise things such as phony COVID-19 relief, tax credits or even simple help in setting up an IRS online account.

In the most recent activity, fraudsters have sent texts requesting taxpayers to click a link that allows phishing websites to collect information or send malicious code to a taxpayer’s cellphone.

The IRS reminds you that it never sends emails or text messages asking for personal or financial information, including account numbers.

If you have received one of these messages or have been caught up in the scam, report the activity with an email to the IRS at [email protected] This can help the IRS and security officials track down and disrupt the scams.

The IRS offers more details on how to report these scams in the press release.

For more on how to avoid becoming a victim of text scams, check out this IRS video on YouTube.