As the end of the year approaches, lots of people are thinking about taxes. And when tax time comes along, so do a lot of identity thieves who are hoping to catch you off guard in order to obtain your social security number, with which they can steal your identity to open up credit cards in your name! Don't let this happen to you!
Although mom had a stroke and now suffers from Aphasia, she still uses her computer to keep in touch with her family. But she's still well aware of the fact that she should never, ever, EVER, click on any attachments to emails or links in emails unless they are from someone in the family who she trusts to know that they are not sending a virus. And when in doubt, she puts that email aside and asks me to inspect it for her to clarify whether it is a valid email or not.
I hope you all practice the same precautions and informed all your family members to do the same!
I've told you about how even I was once fooled when I first started using eBay: Confessions of an Identity Theft Victim. And I've also previously warned you about how identity thieves try to fool you with look-a-like emails and web sites: I'm Mad as Hell! But this all bears repeating, especially now when piles of IRS emails seem to be hitting cyberspace. I say seem because these ARE NOT really from the IRS. The Internal Revenue Service WOULD NOT send you an email to verify your tax accounts or returns! They will NOT tell you to click a link to verify your personal information. And they WILL NOT tell you to get your refund early by clicking links in email!
And if you DO use any type of tax service that tells you to click a link to provide them with tax information...find a new tax service! If anything, they might tell you there is new information on their site regarding your account and then tell you to go to their site directly through your browser as you normally would. Example, if your bank tells you you need to check your account, do not click an email link. Rather, go to their web site directly by typing their secure (should be https:// ...note the S at the end, which indicates a secure server, where you will login. All financial sites should be https:// ). And if you read my I'm Mad as Hell article, linked above, you'll see how they can spoof the links to look legit, but a mouseover and you can easily see (if you have updated software) that the links are phony!
Here is a sampling of just some of the bogus IRS emails I've received over the last week or so!
And you'll notice the blank column. That's where the recipient's name should be listed. Obviously, they didn't address it to anyone because they're just blasting these all over the Internet to email addresses they've picked up or purchased from other spammers, in the hopes that they can find someone who believes these emails are legit, clicks their links and enters their true information into their bogus web sites!
Thankfully, the links to the emails I have shown above are all now disabled on the web. So either the FBI shut them down or they got what they needed and closed the site before they could be traced? But there are still tons of them out there trying to attract newbies who believe their emails! To help educate you or those you show this article to, allow me to give you some examples of these emails.
The above spammer attempts to make the email look legit. Notice the Constitutional Amendment they attempt to include. But a mouseover shows this is really going to veriotechsupport.com.
This one didn't even bother trying to make it look more legit. A fact that sadly testifies to how easy it can be to trick unsuspecting/uninformed Internet users!
In the above email, notice that they didn't bother trying to hide the URL, they just used an IP number in the hopes that it'll look official to recipients. And also, if you look closely, you'll see that the sender is irs.go. They assume people just won't pay attention that it's not IRS.GOV, but just "go." And again, sadly, many people won't pay attention and will be fooled into handing over their bank accounts and identity!
This one tries to look official. But one mouseover and you can see that it's going to Russia. I didn't know the US IRS had an office in Russia!<smirk>
So be warned! Pass the URL to this article to your friends and family to make sure they are informed. Remember, newbies hit the web every day. They need to understand that too much of the content that flies around in emails, particularly unsolicited ones, are scams!
And if you need more ammo to help convince a skeptical friend/relative about how wide-spread these scams are, check out this Mouse Droppings blog post of mine and view the linked video: http://mouse-droppings.blogspot.com/2007/04/you-must-watch-this-video.html
Be careful out there!