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Scam Attempts Tend to Increase During Tax Filing Season

As part of the Kentucky Department of Revenue's (DOR) on-going effort to deter tax fraud and identity theft schemes, the following information can help guard against a growing issue: phishing.

Phishing emails appear to be from a trusted source but are actually sent by a malicious source to gain access to your personal or confidential information.  This information is then used for further criminal or malicious activity.  Many phishing emails contain a link which, if followed, could lead to your computer being infected with malware.  This could allow criminals to access files containing your valuable personal information.

According to the IRS, these phishing emails are scams designed to trick or scam taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including software companies. These schemes can cover a wide range of topics and seek information related to confirming personal information like PIN numbers, tax refunds and verifying their tax software account.

According to Commissioner Daniel Bork, DOR is working diligently to combat these ever-evolving schemes.

"Awareness is the first step in ensuring personal and financial information remains confidential," said Commissioner Bork. "We hope that all taxpayers will take every precaution to secure their valuable information and we will continue to use all of our resources to protect our taxpayers against identity theft and tax fraud."

The number of email phishing schemes are innumerable, and DOR wants to give guidance on the types of emails we send taxpayers.

  • Email Distribution Lists – If you have signed up on an email distribution list, you will receive emails from DOR.  These emails are strictly informational; DOR will never request a response with confidential information.
  • Web Response Email – You will receive a "web response" email only if you contacted DOR first through the DOR "Contact Us" webpage. In this case, you will see your initial email request in the bottom of the email along with DOR's response to your inquiry.
  • Direct Email Contact – If you receive a direct email message from DOR, it will have the name and telephone number of the individual sender. DOR generally initiates taxpayer contact first by letter or telephone call rather than by email. If you receive an email from DOR and have any suspicion about its authenticity, call the sender directly. If there is no sender listed on the email, you can assume it is not from DOR. All telephone numbers at DOR in Frankfort, Kentucky use one of the following two exchanges: (502) 564-XXXX or (502) 782-XXXX. In addition, all DOR employee email addresses use the format firstname.lastname@ky.gov.

Other Warning Signs – Fraudulent or phishing emails frequently have the following characteristics.

  • Links that display one web address but actually lead to a different web address.  Hovering over the links in emails before you click on them will allow you to see the link's true destination/address.
  • Email addresses that are not in the proper format or use the incorrect domain (e.g., ky.com versus ky.gov).
  • Improper use of English – many phishing attacks are generated from countries where English is not the native language and the messages have grammatical errors.
  • Remember that phishing emails use the element of surprise and urgency, as well as other tactics designed to manipulate recipients into cooperating.  Always be on guard.  Take your time and verify that the information in the email is accurate.   

Be safe this tax season.  If an email appears to be from DOR but looks suspicious, contact us immediately at (502) 564-4581.  Do not open or respond to suspicious email.

The Kentucky Department of Revenue conducts work
under the authority of the Finance and Administration Cabinet.