Each year at tax time there is a rise in a certain type of crime: Phishing. If you don’t know what Phishing is it’s when criminals try to trick you in to giving them your personal information. This can include credit card and social security numbers, bank account information and other information that is exclusive to you. Having this information allows criminals to commit identity fraud against you. As most people know, identity theft can range from slightly annoying to financially devastating.
What does this have to do with tax time? Here is one real world example. You get an e-mail from the IRS saying that they have a refund for you and all they need is your bank account information to process that for you. It provides a link to complete the process. You click on the link and it takes you to the IRS Website. You’re convinced that everything is good so you provide your bank account information and wait for your refund.
Here’s what really happened: Somebody who is very good at making websites copied all of the IRS wording and logos and put together an official looking e-mail and website to trick you in to thinking that it was the IRS. They even employed a computer trick that put the IRS website address in the address bar of your website. Now that they have your information, they can empty your bank account. You’re a victim of a phishing scam.
If you go to the real IRS website, (If you are searching for it, search with Google) you will see a series of facts about this. Here are a couple of them:
The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail.
The IRS does not request detailed personal information through e-mail.
The IRS does not send e-mail requesting your PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.
If you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site,
Do not reply.
Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
Do not click on any links. If you clicked on links in a suspicious e-mail or phishing Web site and entered confidential information, visit our Identity Theft page.
Also on this page you can see actual examples of the fake websites and e-mails. Click here to go to that page. Or if you take the above advice, do a search for IRS from Google.