IRS PHISHING SCAM ALERT - PLEASE READ
IR-2021-68, March 30, 2021
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today warned of an ongoing IRS-impersonation scam that appears to primarily target educational institutions, including students and staff who have ".edu" email addresses.
The IRS' firstname.lastname@example.org has received complaints about the impersonation scam in recent weeks from people with email addresses ending in ".edu." The phishing emails appear to target university and college students from both public and private, profit and non-profit institutions.
Taxpayers who believe they have a pending refund can easily check on its status at Where's My Refund? on IRS.gov.
The suspect emails display the IRS logo and use various subject lines such as "Tax Refund Payment" or "Recalculation of your tax refund payment." It asks people to click a link and submit a form to claim their refund.
The phishing website requests taxpayers provide their:
- Social Security number
- First Name
- Last Name
- Date of Birth
- Prior Year Annual Gross Income (AGI)
- Driver's License Number
- Current Address
- State/U.S. Territory
- ZIP Code/Postal Code
- Electronic Filing PIN
People who receive this scam email should not click on the link in the email, but they can report it to the IRS. For security reasons, save the email using "save as" and then send that attachment to email@example.com or forward the email as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and IRS Criminal Investigation have been notified.
Taxpayers who believe they may have provided identity thieves with this information should consider immediately obtaining an Identity Protection PIN. This is a voluntary opt-in program. An IP PIN is a six-digit number that helps prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns in the victim's name.
Taxpayers who attempt to e-file their tax return and find it rejected because a return with their SSN already has been filed should file a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit PDF, to report themselves as a possible identity theft victim. See Identity Theft Central to learn about the signs of identity theft and actions to take.
Verification of FAFSA Data and Inceptia:
Charter Oak has partnered with Inceptia to expedite the verification process for students and their families. If your FAFSA application is selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education, you will use Inceptia’s verification online portal to complete the review of your FAFSA data.
The process of verification will begin with an introductory email from Inceptia. It will be sent to the email address that you listed on your FAFSA application. If you did not provide an email, you will receive a postcard instead. The postcard will be sent to the address you listed on your FAFSA application. Regardless of how you receive the introductory communication from Inceptia, please note that it is legitimate.
To begin the verification process, you will follow the custom school link which will be included in the introductory communication and to access Inceptia’s Verification Gateway. You will need to create a student account to begin the process and will do the following:
- Confirm your identity (authentication).
- Create a secure user name and password.
- Decide if you want to receive text messages and approve to e-sign.
- Access your Action List and begin the verification process (the list may consist of some combination of online forms and the request to upload specific documents to the Verification Gateway).
*Please note that dependent students who provide parental information on the FAFSA application are required to have one parent authenticate and create an account. This parent will be required to e-sign or provide an ink signature once all documentation has been submitted via the verification gateway.
Inceptia will begin the verification process once all documents required for verification are received. Most students can expect the review of their FAFSA data to take seven days. The process may take longer for students who need to submit additional paperwork, clarify information, or whose FAFSA data has to be corrected. Therefore, it is very important for students to begin the verification process as quickly as possible after receiving the introductory email from Inceptia which will be sent from vgcsinceptia.org.
Since verification of student data will no longer be processed in-house by the Office of Financial Aid, all paperwork must be submitted directly to Inceptia. Students with questions about the verification process are encouraged to contact Inceptia, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 (CST), at 888-374-847 or by email at email@example.com.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS ORDERING TAX RETURN TRANSCRIPTS
Moving to better protect taxpayer data, the Internal Revenue Service has implemented a new format for tax return transcripts that will redact personally identifiable information (PII). Identifying information, including names, addresses, AND SSN's, will now be partially redacted from the tax return transcript, but all money amounts will be visible.
The new transcript, with redacted PII, went into effect on September 23, 2018.
Based on the limited information that will now be displayed on the tax return transcript, students are required to reference their name and student id on their tax return transcript before sending it to the Office of Financial Aid. This is the only way that our office will be able to match the tax transcript to the student’s financial aid record.
Students who do not want their financial aid delayed are encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to transfer their tax data onto their FAFSA application. Students who cannot use the IRS DRT, or choose not to use the IRS DRT, will be responsible for providing their full name and student id on all transcripts (student/spouse/parent) submitted to the Office of Financial Aid.
PHISHING EMAIL SCAM ALERT
The Office of Financial Aid is alerting students to an active phishing campaign directed at student email accounts. These fraudulent email messages appear to be coming from the billing office of the school where the student is attending and may appear to be legitimate.
The scheme targets financial aid disbursements and refunds by accessing student account information. It does this by changing student direct deposit information to a bank account controlled by the scammer. As a result, financial aid refunds intended for students are diverted to the scammer.
Below is an example of a recent phishing email which the U.S. Department of Education has shared with us:
Subject: Updated billing statement issued
Please view and confirm your UPDATED 2018 bill.
Bills should be paid in full by the due date, or you should enroll in one of the payment plan options found in your portal. All payment plans have an enrollment fee of 40.00 per semester. Late fees of 15.00 will be assessed for each missed due date. Information showing how to enroll and payment plan FAQS can be found under the student/parent portal. Students may grant proxy access for parents/guardians to their accounts so current and future statements, payment plan options, and other information is available electronically.
If you have any questions concerning your billing statement, please contact the XXXXX. Remember, your portal is available 24 hours a day to make paying your bill more convenient.
Please note that Charter Oak State College will never use email and request that you reply with your student password, full Social Security number, or other confidential personal information. If you receive an email that you believe is suspicious, please do not respond to the email or click on any links or attachments. We recommend that you report it to our help desk by following this link:
IRS DATA RETRIEVAL TOOL (IRS DRT)
- 20-21 and 21-22 Cycle Information:
The IRS DRT is available for students to use with the 2020-2021 FAFSA application and 2021-2022 FAFSA application. Additional security and privacy protections have been added to address identity theft concerns. Due to these concerns, tax information transferred from the IRS onto the FAFSA application won't be visible to applicants. Students will see "Transferred from the IRS" in the appropriate fields as shown below:
To use the IRS DRT, students simply navigate to the to “Financials” section of the FAFSA application where there is an option to use the IRS DRT. For most applicants selected for verification, the use of the IRS DRT may eliminate the requirement of providing an IRS Tax Return Transcript to the Office of Financial Aid.