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DIT Advises Vigilance Against Tax Refund Phishing Scam Targeting Colleges

By Maryland Today Staff

The IRS warned this week that scammers are impersonating the federal agency in fake emails targeting college students and staff expecting tax refunds.

The emails to .edu addresses display the IRS logo and use subject lines like “Tax Refund Payment” and “Recalculation of your tax refund payment” to lure people into turning over personal data like name, Social Security number, driver’s license number and tax filing PIN that could be used to submit a fraudulent return to the IRS or to claim a refund or credit, or for other types of identity theft.

The University of Maryland Division of Information Technology has received no reports of the scam targeting university email users, but officials there said that if students or employees receive a scam email, they should report it to spam@umd.edu. If they have already responded, they should follow the instructions in the IRS warning to receive an identity protection PIN and also contact the UMD Security Operations Center at soc@umd.edu.

Taxpayers who believe they have a pending refund can easily check on its status at Where's My Refund? on IRS.gov.

“We must all remain vigilant in looking out for phishing email,” said Jeff Hollingsworth, UMD vice president for information technology and chief information officer. “Scammers frequently tie their attacks to the season. In the spring, messages related to the IRS and taxes rise. Other times of the year, scammers might use the start of a new semester or a holiday charity campaign to get attention and personal information.”

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Strategic Communications for the University of Maryland community weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.