Tax-Related Identity Theft

Phishing and How to Avoid It

Phishing is a tactic used by scammers to gain your personal information online. Scammers can use emails or websites to coerce victims into giving up their personal information by posing as friends, organizations or government agencies. The goal is to nab any form of personally identifiable information.

What is PII (Personally Identifiable Information)?

Personally identifiable information (PII) is any information that can be used to authenticate your identity. This includes Social Security Numbers, passwords, tax ID numbers, credit or debit card numbers, date of birth, prior-year AGI, and so on.

You can never be too careful about protecting your PII. Make sure that websites you share PII on have security measures in place, like two-step verification and encryption certifications.

What is two-step verification?

Two-step verification is a security feature used by many websites that requires you to confirm your sign-in with a password and an additional code sent to your email address or phone number.

Does the IRS request personal information via email?

If you ever receive an email claiming to be from the IRS that demands any PII, you can confidently ignore it; the IRS never initiates communication with taxpayers by email.

Similarly, the IRS does not initially reach out to taxpayers over the phone. If a caller claims to be from the IRS and demands money or verification of PII, it’s extremely unlikely to be legitimate.

You can always call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 if you want to be sure that there is nothing out of order with your tax return.

What if I get a suspicious email claiming to be from Tax Office & Associates?

At Tax Office & Associates, we will never ask you to send us personal information via email without first having spoken with you by phone or in person at our office. 

Here’s what to do if you should receive an email claiming to be from Tax Office & Associates that contains a request for personal information:

  • Don’t reply, Don't click on attachments, and Don't click on any links.
  • Forward the email to
  • If you did click on a link or attachment, or replied with your credentials, notify Tax Office & Associates immediately by phone at 1-800-734-1981 or 707-285-7105.
  • Delete the original email.

It is always a good idea to call and confirm any request for information.