50000 phishing sites created last yearDate: March 09, 2006
Yes, the tax-time phishing scams are hitting computers everywhere.
"There has been a rash of phony IRS e-mails being sent out," said Luis D. Garcia, an IRS spokesman in Detroit.
Many consumers know to stay away from e-mails that supposedly are being sent by their bank or credit card company.
And banks will always tell you that they aren't going to send you an e-mail out of the blue that asks for your personal financial information.
Yet the phishing gangs are getting more sophisticated.
The Anti-Phishing Working Group discovered that almost 50,000 phishing Web sites were created last year.
And when it comes to an e-mail from the IRS?
Scammers know that more than half of all tax returns, personal and business, are going to be filed electronically this year.
So if you e-filed, it may not seem too odd that the IRS would e-mail you, too.
Some taxpayers might react too quickly when they get an official-looking IRS e-mail, just because most people want to stay on the good side of the IRS.
"When somebody's leaving a calling card and saying this is the IRS, they tend to perk up," Garcia said.
The trouble starts if you click on the link provided in the e-mail. Then you're sent to a Web page that looks very much like a legitimate IRS Web site at www.irs.gov. And you're asked to type in personal financial information.
Once the scam artists get your personal information, they can steal your identity or empty your bank account.
The IRS is not going to ask you for Social Security numbers, passwords, credit card account numbers or bank account numbers via e-mail.
"We're not going to initiate any contact by e-mail or by phone," Garcia said.
The IRS would contact you in a notice or letter.
In the Detroit area, some scam operators are going a step further by actually calling people and claiming to be from the IRS.
The scammers might tell you that you're due a $1,000 refund from previous years, but then they say you must send $200 first because you owe some money for another tax year.
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