THEY'RE BAAA-AAACK….and the "phish" smells worse than ever.
Internet "phishing" scammers are at it again, and this time
more people than ever are getting lured in. The email looks
like an official update from the IRS, the senders email
address looks official, the IRS logo is on the email…and the
subject line would lure in any hardworking taxpayer with its
tasty bait that smells of a tax refund from Uncle Sam. But
watch out…even though it looks legitimate; don't let these
internet thieves catch you with their hook. You could soon
find yourself tangled up and struggling to rid yourself of a
nasty case of identity theft. Here is the scoop:
A bogus email shows up in your inbox from firstname.lastname@example.org
and has a subject line that reads "Refund Notice", appearing
to be from the IRS. If you click on the email to view the
contents, it will state that you are entitled to a tax
refund for a specific amount of money, usually $63.80 or
$163.80 for some reason. However, to obtain the refund you
must complete a tax refund form by clicking on a link
contained in the email.
Do not click on the link…the IRS does not communicate with
taxpayers via email, certainly never asks for personal
identifying or financial information via email, and does not
require online forms to be completed to receive a refund.
This scam has been working, since everyone "does business"
with the IRS, whereas some of the other common phishing
scams that copy traditional financial institutions
information (like Bank of America), may not even be a
company that is used by the recipient. Also, since the tax
system is so confusing, it's easy for someone to believe
that there may be some extra refund money laying on the
table at the IRS. But if you do click on the link or provide
any information, these internet thieves are hoping they can
capture your personal information and use it to run up
charges on credit cards, apply for new loans, or even file
fraudulent tax returns. If you receive an email of this
type, here's what you should do to protect yourself:
Delete any unsolicited emails that have "IRS" in the email
Find out if the IRS is trying to contact you regarding a
refund by calling 1-800-829-1040.
If you need to visit the IRS site, go there directly by
www.irs.gov into your web browser, never via a link
within an email.
If you accidentally open a bogus email, do not open
attachments or click on links. They may contain malicious
code that could infect your computer.
Phishing is becoming more and more popular and identity
thieves are becoming more sophisticated at using technology
to create exact replicas of websites. With identity theft
cases on the rise, it is important to use caution when
opening emails that are unsolicited or unfamiliar,
especially from any type of financial institution, including
the good old IRS offering a "refund". It's like the old
saying goes…if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.