Consumer Reports: IRS tax scammers targeting Obamacare customers

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Enrollment for 2017 coverage under the Affordable Care Act has begun and scammers are taking aim at people who are covered under the program. (WPVI)

Enrollment for 2017 coverage under the Affordable Care Act has begun and scammers are taking aim at people who are covered under the program.

Criminals are exploiting confusion about the insurance program, so Consumer Reports has the red flags you should look for to avoid becoming the next victim.

Certified Public Accountant Anthony D'Alessio was alerted to an email that claims to be from the Internal Revenue Service. It demands an immediate payment.

For advice he could provide his own clients, D'Alessio went to ID theft expert Adam Levin.

Levin says at first glance the demand might look legitimate.

"This notice is just a further indication of how sophisticated and creative that scammers and identity thieves have become," he said.

Consumer Reports Nikhil Hutheesing says this latest scam targets people with insurance through the Affordable Care Act, alleging they owe additional money for their coverage.

A closer look reveals several red flags. The first is the email itself.

"The IRS will never send you an email out of the blue. You should know that if money is owed the notice will be sent by regular mail," said Hutheesing.

Another red flag is that the fake notice instructs that the check, in this case for $325, be made out to the IRS.

"Tax checks are made out to the United States Treasury, NOT the IRS," said Hutheesing.

And, where you send the check is also probably phony. The IRS says the address on this one in Austin, Texas is not an official processing center.

"If you get this type of fake IRS email do not open any attachments or click on any links it may have. Immediately forward it to phishing@irs.gov and then delete it," said Hutheesing.

To get rid of it permanently, Levin says, also delete the email from your Trash.

ID theft expert Levin says there may be some instances of IRS scam letters being delivered by regular mail.

You can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to ask whether a notice you have received is actually from the agency.

You can also consult a reliable tax professional to get advice about whether the notice is genuine and how to handle it.

For more information on computer security, visit ConsumerReports.org.
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