As Tax Season Approaches, Learn More about Tax Refund and Stimulus Payment Scams
Fraudulent emails are again promising tax refunds or stimulus payments. These scams, called phishing attacks, pretend to come from legitimate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) email accounts. The emails tell users to follow a link to a website or to complete an attached document, requesting personal information that may include credit card numbers, bank account numbers, etc. Criminals use the information to empty the victims’ bank accounts, run up credit card charges, and apply for loans or credit in the victims’ names. Both the website and document have the appearance of genuine IRS material. Some fake stimulus payment sites try to look authentic with pictures of the president, the White House, Congress, the American flag, etc.
Remember, the IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that the promise of stimulus money in return for a fee or financial information is always a scam.
The IRS never requests detailed personal information through email, nor do they request PINs, passwords, or access information for credit cards, banks, or other financial accounts.
If you receive an email claiming to be from the IRS or directing you to an IRS site,
- Do not reply.
- Do not open any attachments. They may contain malicious code that can infect your computer.
- Do not click any links.
If you want to make sure that the site you’re looking at really is the IRS, click the smaller image above.
If you think you are the target of a scam, you can also file a complaint with the FTC.
For more information
- Medical IT: Phishing and identity theft
- FTC: Seeing through Stimulus Scams
- IRS: Beware of Phishing Schemes (English & Spanish)
- IRS: How to Report and Identity Phishing, Email Scams, and Bogus IRS Websites
Posted March 31, 2009