Is that email really from the IRS?
A key strategy for fraudsters is to contact individuals via email, and to pretend to be the Internal Revenue Service, said Roel Schouwenberg, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, which provides Internet security products and services. This is known as phishing. Unsuspecting users then click on links that allow malware to be downloaded on to computers.
Mustafa Rassiwala, a cybersecurity expert, said the suspicious emails can appear like legitimate requests for information.
" 'We have some problems with your account and I need to get access to your Social Security number, and your address' ... a lot of consumers unknowingly hand over this information," said Rassiwala, senior director of product management at cybersecurity company ThreatMetrix, which specializes is user authentication.
To clarify, the IRS will never send you any electronic communication, including emails and text messages, which ask for personal information. The IRS also advises if you get a suspicious email, you should not reply, click on links or open attachments. Instead, report suspicious emails to the IRS by forwarding them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Read more: Identity thieves gear up to steal your tax refund)