So yesterday an email arrives about a so-called $163 refund -- for me -- from the so-called IRS. It’s a total scam. Just another phishing ploy.
Here’s the email:
Subject line: "IRS Notification Please read this"
“After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $163.80. Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 6-9 days in order to process it.
A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.
To access the form for your tax refund, please click here...”
Totally bogus. The real IRS has issued a Consumer Alert
about phishing schemes that use the IRS name and logo.
The real IRS Speaks Out:
Common Phishing Schemes
• One e-mail scam, fraught with grammatical errors and typos, looks like a page from the IRS Web site and claims to be from the "IRS Antifraud Comission" (sic), a fictitious group. The e-mail claims someone has enrolled the taxpayer's credit card in EFTPS and has tried to pay taxes with it. The e-mail also says there have been fraud attempts involving the taxpayer's bank account. The e-mail claims money was lost and "remaining founds" (sic) are blocked. Recipients are asked to click on a link that will help them recover their funds, but the subsequent site asks for personal information that the thieves could use to steal the taxpayer’s identity.
• E-mails claiming to come from firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and similar variations told the recipients that they were eligible to receive a tax refund for a given amount. It directed recipients to claim the refund by using a link contained in the e-mail which sent the recipient to a Web site. The site, a copy of the IRS Web site, displayed an interactive page similar to a genuine IRS one; however, it had been modified to ask for personal and financial information that the genuine IRS interactive page does not require.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has found numerous separate Web sites in at least 20 different countries hosting variations on this scheme.
• A bogus IRS letter and Form W-8BEN (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding) asked non-residents to provide personal information such as account numbers, PINs, mother’s maiden name and passport number. The legitimate IRS Form W-8BEN, which is used by financial institutions to establish appropriate tax withholding for foreign individuals, does not ask for any of this information.
If you receive a suspicious e-mail that claims to come from the IRS, you can relay that e-mail to a new IRS mailbox, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-366-4484."