The IRS is warning about an email scam that appears to be targeting federal employees, including references to cyber breaches of personal information; some messages specifically refer to the breaches of OPM databases of personnel files and background investigation records on current and former federal employees, among others. The emails, many of which are being targeted at the federal employee-heavy Washington, D.C. area, purport to be from the IRS and say that the recipient may be a victim of tax fraud and ask them to submit the last four digits of their Social Security numbers. “It is important to keep in mind that the IRS generally does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels,” the IRS said. Scams related to the OPM breaches began almost as soon as they were announced last summer, resulting in warnings from the FTC and other agencies. Many recipients of the personnel files breach notices were suspicious of them since those emails came from a contractor, not from OPM. The later notices in the background investigations breach were mainly sent by mail, and came from OPM. However, some recipients even of those were suspicious because they never personally worked for the government—for example, some went to family members of federal employees who had to list them in security clearance applications.
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