Commentary

IRS won’t ever contact you by e-mail

Tax season brings out con artists looking for victims. We should be careful not to oblige them.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sends out warnings about scammers using the IRS name or logo for the purpose of gaining access to both your identity and assets.

Don’t fall for these “phishing” trips. Remember phishing explains the activity used when criminals “fish” for information, then, “hook” the victims with emails on the internet. Con artists send messages to trick you into giving personal data that can and will be used against you.

You may get a “notice” that the IRS wants you to contact them for a refund. The IRS found that you are eligible for a larger refund or that you are due a refund from them. A link is furnished for your convenience.

It is always a bad practice to “click” on to a link in any e-mail unless you know the sender.

The recommended procedure is to contact the company directly. This provides you with the assurance that you are talking to a representative of the company you called.

Just clicking on a link places you directly in harm way, because you have no clue who sent the e-mail or where the link will take you.

These scamming offers may reach you through e-mails, telephone, or the United States Postal Service. The IRS will never contact you via e-mail.

Disregard all e-mails that phish for credit card numbers, social security numbers, date of birth, or bank account numbers.

It’s not a good idea to contact these people to fuss at them. It may compound your problems later, and you may give information you prefer them not to have.

Remember a caller ID w ill identify you to them and they may sell that information to other crooks. It is unwise to encourage offers from the criminal world.

Now for some good news. You can help shut down schemes and protect others from becoming victims. Any e-mail coming (supposedly) from IRS should be reported to a new IRS mailbox, phishing@IRS.gov. The information you send provides critical information found in the original e-mail. URL and links allow investigators information for tracing the host web site so these operations can be shut down.

If you have other issues, regarding fraudulent uses of IRS name or logo, other than e-mails, you can report these to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, (TIGTA) at www.treas. gov/tigta or call toll-free hotline 1-800-366-4484.

You can view a video on phishing malware at the IRS website, www.IRS.gov.

It is easier to fall victim than you realize, so stay alert. Your personal data in the wrong hands could empty financial accounts, run up charges on your credit cards, or apply for loans in your name.

Crimes may be committed in your name.

Taking money from your account is not the only way you lose.

Some have actually lost their jobs due to identity theft. Opportunities may be lost, loans you need may be refused, or you may not qualify for home loans or a loan to purchase a car.

Watch for the “making work pay refund” e-mail. It will claim that the president’s “making work pay provision” in the 2009 Economic Recovery Law allow money to be electronically sent to your bank account.

They ask for your account number and routing number so the refund can be deposited into your account. You can see how dangerous it would be if a con artist had this information.

tedh@alpha1.net


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2010-03-11 digital edition



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