IRS warns of an e-mail scam

An official-looking e-mail letter that purports to be from the IRS and orders recipients to divulge personal information is a scam, authorities said.

The letter carries a masthead, “Internal Revenue Service IRS.gov,” and it questions the recipient’s residency status. It asks people to fill out forms, including one that asks for bank account numbers.

The e-mail is the latest incarnation of a prolific scam that has been going on a while, IRS spokesman Jesse Weller said.

The IRS does not send out unsolicited e-mails about a person’s tax account and never asks via e-mail for detailed personal and financial information such as bank account and credit card numbers, he said.

“It keeps morphing,” Weller said of the scam, known as phishing. “They change the form and the look of the e-mail.

“It’s similar to spam. They send out millions of them, and they only need to reply to steal their identity.”

In 1996, the IRS established an inbox, “phishing@irs.gov,” for people to send suspicious e-mails.

The agency has received about 33,000 forwarded electronic mails, reflecting more than 1,000 incidents.

Weller warned people not to open any attachment, and not to click on links in the messages.

Doing so may download a Trojan Horse that can damage the computer or allow remote access to the hard drive.

If people do click on an attachment, they should make sure the computer’s virus protection is current and run a scan immediately. If you have spyware, run a scan for that, too, Weller said

SOURCE : http://www.fresnobee.com/local/story/1338700.html

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