Filing taxes? Beware of scams

It’s tax season in the United States, which means it’s time for us to remind you about tax scams—especially email messages that appear to come from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or another legitimate organization.

These seemingly valid offers are designed to trick you into turning over your personal information or to click on links or attachments that will automatically download malicious software to your computer.

The most common tax scams we’ve seen include:

  • Fraudulent links to get your refund
  • Free tax preparation or tax preparation software
  • Promises to get you out of paying your taxes

To help avoid tax scams

Be careful when you click links or open attachments. If you need to go to the IRS website, use a bookmark or type the URL directly into your web browser. Read more about how the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or any social media tools to request personal or financial information.

Use antivirus software. Download Microsoft Security Essentials at no cost for Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. Windows Defender is an antivirus feature in Windows 8 that replaces Microsoft Security Essentials. 

Use email software with built-in spam filtering. SmartScreen technology helps reduce unwanted email. It’s built into Microsoft email programs (, Hotmail, Outlook, Exchange, Windows Mail, and Entourage) and is turned on by default.

Read more about security features in and Hotmail.

Get help with phishing scams, lottery fraud, and other types of scams

About the Author
Eve Blakemore

Group Manager, Trustworthy Computing

Eve Blakemore is a Group Manager for Trustworthy Computing who delivers consumer guidance around the latest trends in security and privacy. Eve joined Microsoft in 1998 and has worked in corporate and field roles with Microsoft Learning, US Public Sector, Read more »

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  1. Anonymous

    I have had two phonr calls from individuals claiming to be Microsoft Technical Contractors who tell me that my computer is transmitting malicious data to the World Wide Web. They have used the names; Steve Watson and Adam Smith respectively. They have asked that I log on to their website, Oak Solutions in Las Angeles and they will scan and clean up my computer and install software to prevent further problems. They say their software will only cost me if my warranty has expired on my Windows Operating System. Both of these men have pronounced Indian of Pakistani accents and both insist they are authorized Microsot Technicians. I have reported this issue to the KY State Police and to my internet provider Insight.

  2. Anonymous


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