ITR Refund Fraud Alert: Scammers are sending this message to cheat taxpayers
The Income Tax Department does not send refund links via SMS or email, nor does it request sensitive information like PINs or passwords through such means. Taxpayers are urged to report such suspicious emails or website links.
The Press Information Bureau's fact-checking unit, PIB Fact Check, has raised an alarm about a new phishing scam relating to Income Tax Return (ITR) filing and refunds. A deceptive message has been circulating, claiming that the recipient is entitled to an income tax refund of Rs 15,490. The PIB Fact Check has unambiguously stated that this claim is false and has not been issued by the Income Tax Department of India, urging taxpayers to exercise caution and not disclose personal information based on such messages.
A viral message claims that the recipient has been approved for an income tax refund of _ 15,490.#PIBFactCheck
__ This claim is ____.
__ @IncomeTaxIndia has ___ sent this message.
________ of such scams & _______ from sharing your personal information. pic.twitter.com/dsRPkhO3gg
— PIB Fact Check (@PIBFactCheck) August 2, 2023
The 'income tax refund' message is a well-orchestrated phishing scam that has gained traction and is now viral. This has prompted PIB Fact Check to warn people against cybercrime as scammers are persuading taxpayers to reveal their bank account information via fraudulent links.
Phishing Scams: Preventive Measures
To avoid falling victim to such malicious messages, taxpayers should take note of several important factors. Primarily, the income tax department does not send refund links through SMS or email. The I-T department does not request personal information like PINs or passwords either. As a standard practice, it's advised not to disclose debit or credit card information on websites that are received through SMS links as they could be part of a phishing scam.
Moreover, taxpayers should remain vigilant when receiving suspicious emails or website links purporting to be from the Income Tax Department. They are urged not to engage with these messages in any form, including replying, opening attachments, or clicking on links as they could install malware into the user's system.
Steps for Reporting and Checking Tax Return Status
For reporting fraudulent tax return activities or phishing attempts, these suspect emails or website URLs can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com for official investigation. Furthermore, the Income Tax Department recommends using two-factor authentication for online banking for enhanced security.
For genuine status updates of ITR, taxpayers can directly access www.incometax.gov.in using their PAN/Aadhaar number and password. Following this, selecting 'Income tax returns' under the 'e-file' option will display the most recent ITR filed. It is also worth noting that a legitimate ITR refund is only processed by the Income Tax Department after due diligence and is typically issued within 7 to 120 days from the date the return was filed.