IRS Phishing Scams – It’s That Time of Year!

It’s our favorite time of year here in the U.S. – TAX TIME!

Along with tax season comes the predictable onslaught of IRS scam emails. No, these don’t come from the IRS. They are from the same old bad guys trying to separate you from your money.

Here’s an email that just arrived today:

IRS Email Scam

They’re only offering a refund of $63.80??? Those crooks!

I would have thought a higher amount, like $630.80 would better peak our interest in recovering the money. Oh well, I’m sure they do extensive testing to determine the cash amount that draws the most clicks…

Once you click the link you’ll see a beautiful reproduction of the IRS site along with a form asking for your:

  • SSN
  • Credit card number
  • Credit card expiration date
  • Credit card CVV security code from the back of the card
  • Credit card ATM PIN

This looks like a clear credit card fraud attempt. With this information they can purchase items over the internet or withdraw cash from your account.

What should you do if you receive an email like this?

The IRS, unfortunately, doesn’t currently have an easy way to report these emails. The best you can do right now is call 800-366-4484 to report it, but the number was busy each time I tried to call. Not good.

The IRS has placed this kind of phishing scam in their “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for 2006. Here’s what they had to say:

Phishing. Phishing is a technique used by identity thieves to acquire personal financial data in order to gain access to the financial accounts of unsuspecting consumers, run up charges on their credit cards or apply for new loans in their names. These Internet-based criminals pose as representatives of a financial institution and send out fictitious e-mail correspondence in an attempt to trick consumers into disclosing private information.

Sometimes scammers pose as the IRS itself. In recent months, some taxpayers have received e-mails that appear to come from the IRS. A typical e-mail notifies a taxpayer of an outstanding refund and urges the taxpayer to click on a hyperlink and visit an official-looking Web site. The Web site then solicits a social security and credit card number.

In a variation of this scheme, criminals have used e-mail to announce to unsuspecting taxpayers they are “under audit” and could make things right by divulging selected private financial information. Taxpayers should take note:

The IRS does not use e-mail to initiate contact with taxpayers about issues related to their accounts. If a taxpayer has any doubt whether a contact from the IRS is authentic, the taxpayer should call 1-800-829-1040 to confirm it.”

Since the IRS is so lame in trying to shut down sites, I thought I’d do something.

It appears the servers are based in Korea and I’ve emailed the ISPs that manage the IP involved, but I’m not holding my breath.

The last word… enjoy tax season, just don’t try to claim an early refund from scammers.

Author: Dave Nielsen

I started using computers in 1978 on the Apple II and was first online (using my “high-speed” 1200 baud modem) in 1989. I’ve managed web sites for several Fortune 500 companies and for internet start-ups. Working for one of those start-ups is what brought me into the world of credit. I was part of the the executive team that ran QSpace, the first company to offer credit reports over the internet.

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