Phishing Email Scams Increasingly Target the IRS

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

The newest IRS phishing scam promises taxpayers they will get more money back from their refund.

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 tax refund of $ 109.30,"

This recent phishing attack claims to be from the Internal Revenue Service, United States Department of Treasury 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 an email out to you – EVER".

Some other recent IRS phishing scams include the following:

May 31, 2007-

The IRS warns taxpayers about an email intended to fool people into believing they were under investigation by the agency's Criminal Investigation division. This email is actually a Trojan Horse virus. So, if you receive on of these unsolicited IRS emails, do not open it or any attachments included and never give out personal financial information in an email from any unsolicited source.

April 2, 2007-

Internet criminals used fake emails to direct consumers to a Web link that requested personal and financial information. These types of emails are used to steal the taxpayer's identity and then their financial assets. The criminals use this data for everything from running up charges to obtaining IRS refunds belonging to the unsuspecting victim.

July 19, 2006-

The IRS reports on a phishing email claiming to come from the "IRS Antifraud Commission" claiming someone has enrolled the taxpayer's credit card in the IRS '(EFTPS) Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. This email says 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 site requesting personal information these 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 started 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 [email protected] . This will help the IRS inform consumers of the newest threats.

The number of these type of attacks on the Internet are increasing at an alarming rate and if computer users weren't falling for these schemes, the criminals would cease making money and stop using these tactics.

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

1. At the very least you need to have a fully updated, comprehensive antivirus and antispyware program including firewall protection, email protection, instant message scanning, virus removal and detection, and spyware removal and detection, as well as fast and friendly technical support. StopSign's Internet Security Suite includes all of this and more and can be found at stopsign.com.

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

3. You should never give out private information over the Internet unless you are entirely certain you are dealing with a legitimate business enterprise. It is usually safest to avoid unsolicited materials all together.

4. Be careful what you download onto your machine. Always make sure you read the company EULA (End User License Agreement) sometimes also called (Terms of Service) and if they don't have one at all, be very suspicious. Many EULAS contain fine print explaining a company information sharing practices. If it sounds like an invasion of your privacy, do not download the software.

The IRS is only one of countless legitimate institutions being used to target phishing campaigns to computer users. Protect yourself and your family's personal information by practicing safe Internet habits. Don't let the phishers reel you in too.

Sources:

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

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

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