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Business News/ Money / Personal Finance/  Income Tax department warns taxpayers against refund scam: How to avoid falling victim to this scam?
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Income Tax department warns taxpayers against refund scam: How to avoid falling victim to this scam?

The government has issued a warning to taxpayers about a phishing scam involving fraudulent income tax refund messages circulating from scammers. To protect yourself from falling victim to such phishing scams, follow the necessary precautions and be cautious with suspicious messages and links.

Income Tax Department warns against possible phishing scams. (Pixabay)Premium
Income Tax Department warns against possible phishing scams. (Pixabay)

The Income Tax Department issued a cautionary advisory to taxpayers regarding phishing messages impersonating the department and promising income tax refunds. Such messages frequently include a hyperlink that redirects users to a deceptive website resembling the official Income Tax Department platform. Unsuspecting taxpayers who input their personal details on this fraudulent site are at risk of having their identity and financial information compromised by scammers. Stay vigilant and avoid falling prey to these scams.

Taxpayers have been alerted by the Department to exercise caution when encountering messages promising a Rs 15,490 income tax refund. These messages are fraudulent, and clicking on the provided link may lead to a deceptive website designed to mimic the official Income Tax Department site. If personal information is entered on this deceptive website, scammers could exploit it to steal your identity and financial data. It is crucial to remain vigilant and avoid falling victim to these scams.

The PIB Fact check team advised, “Scammers are tricking taxpayers into updating their bank account information through fraudulent links. Be cautious of sharing any sensitive information and always verify the authenticity of messages before taking any action related to your income tax returns."

“A viral message claims that the recipient has been approved for an income tax refund of Rs 15,490. This claim is fake. @IncomeTaxIndia has not sent this message. Beware of such scams & refrain from sharing your personal information," said PIB Fact Check in an official tweet.

Income Tax Department issues warning against income tax refund phishing scam.
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Income Tax Department issues warning against income tax refund phishing scam. (PIB Fact Check on Twitter)

The Income Tax Department attached the screenshot of the scam message along with the tweet, which reads, “Dear Sir, You have been approved an income tax refund of Rs 15,490/-, the amount will be credited to your account shortly. Please verify your account number 5XXXXX6755. If this is not correct, please update your bank account information by visiting the link below."

Falling prey to this scam

The Income Tax Department has issued a warning to taxpayers regarding fraudulent messages claiming to offer income tax refunds and requesting personal information. These messages are deceptive, leading recipients to a fake website designed to resemble the official Income Tax Department site. If the link is clicked, scammers can exploit the entered personal information, resulting in identity and financial theft.

Here's how the scam operates:

  • The scammer sends a fake message to a taxpayer, pretending to be from the Income Tax Department.
  • The message includes a link that redirects the taxpayer to a deceptive website mimicking the official Income Tax Department platform.
  • On the fake website, the taxpayer is asked to provide personal details like PAN number, Aadhaar number, and bank account information.
  • Once the taxpayer enters their personal information, scammers illicitly gain access to it and may use it to drain the victim's bank account.

The Income Tax Department has clarified that no such messages with URLs are sent by them. If you receive any message purporting to be from the Income Tax Department offering a tax refund, avoid clicking on any links in the message. Instead, directly visit the official Income Tax Department website to check the status of your refund. Stay vigilant to safeguard your personal information and finances from these scams.

It is essential for taxpayers to be aware that the Income Tax Department exclusively credits Income Tax Refunds into pre-validated bank accounts provided by the taxpayer in their Income Tax Return (ITR).

How to avoid falling victim to this scam?

To safeguard yourself from this scam, consider these precautionary measures:

  • Refrain from clicking on links in unsolicited messages. If you receive a message purportedly from the Income Tax Department, avoid clicking any links and directly visit the official Income Tax Department website to check your refund status.
  • Exercise caution with messages requesting personal information. Legitimate communications from the Income Tax Department will never ask for sensitive data like PAN number, Aadhaar number, or bank account details via email or SMS. If any message demands such information, treat it as a scam.
  • Rely solely on the official Income Tax Department website. Always use the authentic website. Verify the URL to ensure it matches the official site if you are uncertain about a website's legitimacy.
  • In case you suspect being a victim of this scam, promptly contact the Income Tax Department. Additionally, report the scam to the authorities.

For further protection, here are some valuable resources:

By staying vigilant and utilizing these resources, you can shield yourself from potential scams and protect your personal information and finances.

Exercise caution

To safeguard your computer from potentially harmful files, ensure that your antivirus software is regularly updated and utilize a firewall. Exercise caution when browsing the internet, carefully choosing which websites to visit and links to click on. If you encounter a suspicious website, refrain from clicking any links and promptly close the site. Report any such suspicious websites to the authorities for further investigation. By following these precautions, you can enhance your computer's security and protect your data from threats.

In case you encounter fake ITR reporting or phishing attempts, please promptly forward the suspicious email or website URL to webmanager@incometax.gov.in and incident@cert-in.org.in. This will initiate an investigation to address the matter effectively. Your cooperation in reporting such incidents is crucial in combating potential scams and ensuring a safer online environment for all users.

Enhanced security helps

Enhancing the security of your online banking can be achieved through two-factor authentication. When enabled, this feature requires you to enter both your regular password and a unique one-time password (OTP) every time you log in. The OTP is typically sent to your phone or email and changes with each login attempt. By implementing this extra layer of protection, even if someone knows your password, it becomes significantly more challenging for them to compromise your account.

Another secure method is using your fingerprint as a second password, which is becoming increasingly common and provides added account protection.

To access the status of your ITR form, you can visit the Income Tax Department website and log in using your PAN or Aadhaar number and password. Once logged in, go to the “e-file" section, select “Income tax returns", and then click on “View Filed returns" to review the latest filed ITR. This way, you can easily stay updated on your tax return status.

Typically, the ITR refund is processed within seven to 120 days from the date of filing the return. To check the status of your ITR, log in to your account. Once logged in, you can access additional information such as downloading the return/intimation. Reviewing your ITR status after logging in allows you to avail yourself of these supplementary details conveniently.

 

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Why should you file ITR even with no taxable income:
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Why should you file ITR even with no taxable income:

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Published: 04 Aug 2023, 02:03 PM IST
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