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How to tell if an IRS or TurboTax email is real

Posted at 9:11 AM, Feb 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-17 09:11:15-05

It's getting into peak tax season, which means you're going to be dealing with a tax preparer and the IRS over the next few weeks. That means calls and emails. But now how do you know if they are real?

If you receive an email from the IRS, beware!

It may say "click here to see your refund," or "click here because we found a problem with your return."

But the IRS does not email people about problems or to update your refund status.  In almost every case, that email is a phishing scam.

However, If you receive a paper letter via snail mail from the IRS, it very well may be legitimate.  In that case, call the agency.

The key here is that if the IRS or state has questions for you, they  will mail you a letter with your name specifically on it.

Want to know your refund status?  Go to this link at IRS.gov.

But from the "doesn't that stink" file,  another easy to fall for phishing scam involving the popular tax software TurboTax.

It uses the company's logo and look, and appears legitimate. But TurboTax says scammers are sending emails saying there has been a problem with your tax filing. It tells you to click a link to re-file or to recover your password. But if you click and give out any personal information, you'll end up saying "doesn't that stink?"

Carefully check the email's return address on any tax email.  If it's suspicious, don't even open the email, as it could contain malware.

Bottom line: Be wary of all emails pertaining to your taxes.  And remember that any legitimate service or agency will address you by name -- not "Dear taxpayer."

So be extra diligent during tax season, and don't waste your money.