Phishing Email Scams Increasingly Target the IRS

Several phishing schemes allegedly use fake emails from the IRS to lure their victims. Phishing is a scam where internet criminals send fake messages to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing personal and financial information they use to steal the victim’s identity.

The latest IRS phishing scam promises taxpayers that they will get more money back from their reimbursement.

The body of the email contains text similar to this:

“After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity, we have determined that you are eligible to receive a $ 109.30 tax payment,”

This recent phishing attack claims to be from the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Treasury Department and even includes the agency’s official logo.

David Stewart, an agency spokesman for the Philadelphia IRS office, warns computer users, “The IRS will never send you an email – ever.”

Some other recent IRS phishing scams include the following:

May 31, 2007-

The IRS is warning taxpayers an email that should trick people into thinking they were under investigation by the agency’s Criminal Investigation Department. This email is actually a Trojan Horse virus. So, if you receive these unsolicited IRS emails, do not open it or attachments and never provide personal financial information in an email from any unwanted source.

April 2, 2007-

Internet criminals used fake emails to direct consumers to a web link requesting personal and financial information. These types of emails are used to steal the taxpayer’s identity and then their financial assets. Criminals use this data for everything from driveway fees to obtaining IRS reimbursements that belong to the unsuspecting victim.

July 19, 2006-

The IRS reports on a phishing email claiming to come from the “IRS Antifraud Commission” and claims that someone has enrolled the taxpayer’s credit card into the IRS’s (EFTPS) electronic federal tax payment system. This email says that there have been fraud attempts involved in the taxpayer’s bank account, and asks recipients to click on a link to recover the funds. This link goes to a website that asks for personal information, which the thieves then use to steal the taxpayer’s identity.

The Treasury Department has fielded more than 23,000 complaints about IRS phishing campaigns since they began tracking these scams in 2005. Congressional investigators recently estimated that phishing costs consumers approximately. $ 1 billion a year.

If you receive what you believe to be a fake email from the IRS, forward it to phishing@irs.gov. This will help the IRS inform consumers about the latest threats.

The number of these types of attacks on the Internet is increasing at an alarming rate, and if computer users did not fall for these schemes, the criminals would stop making money and stop using these tactics.

Some ways to help protect your computer from phishing, spyware and internet scams are:

1. At the very least, you need a fully up-to-date, comprehensive antivirus and antispyware program, including firewall protection, email protection, instant messaging, virus scanning and virus removal and spyware removal and detection, and fast and friendly Technical Support. StopSign’s Internet Security Suite includes all this and more and can be found at stopsign.com.

2. It is also very important to never click on links or open emails or attachments from unknown sources.

3. You should never provide private information over the Internet unless you are absolutely certain that you are dealing with a legitimate business. It is usually safe to avoid unsolicited materials together.

4. Be careful about what you download to your machine. Always make sure that you read the company’s EULA (End User License Agreement), which is sometimes also called (Terms of Service), and if they don’t have one at all, be very suspicious. Many EULASs contain fine print that explains a company’s information sharing practice. If that sounds like an invasion of your privacy, do not download the software.

The IRS is just one of countless legitimate institutions used to target phishing campaigns to computer users. Protect yourself and your family’s privacy by practicing safe internet habits. Don’t let the Phishans reel you in, either.

sources:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_522639.html

http://www.irs.gov/index.html

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