The United States Internal Revenue Service has issued a consumer alert regarding a two-step e-mail scam that falsely promises recipients they will receive $80 for participating in an online customer satisfaction survey.
In the scam, unsuspecting taxpayers receive an unsolicited e-mail that appears to come from the IRS.
"We have seen many e-mail scams using the IRS name," said Linda Stiff, IRS deputy commissioner for operations support. "The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers through e-mail. Taxpayers should always use caution when they receive unsolicited e-mails."
The e-mail reportedly notifies the recipient that he or she has been randomly selected to participate in a survey. In return, the IRS will credit $80 to the taxpayer's account. There are references to the IRS in the "from" line and the "subject" line of the e-mail. The link to the survey and a copyright statement at the bottom of the e-mail also reference the IRS. The survey form features the IRS logo.
In addition to standard customer satisfaction survey questions, the survey requests the name and phone number of the participant and also asks for credit card information.
Once the fraudsters have a name and phone number, they will presumably call the participant and attempt to retrieve other financial information.
The apparent objectives of the scam are to use the participant's name and financial data to withdraw funds from the taxpayer's bank account, run up charges on a credit card or take out loans in the taxpayer's name, indicated the IRS.
Tricking victims into revealing private personal and financial information via the Internet, telephone or other means is a practice known as "phishing," continued the federal agency
Carbon County taxpayers should be aware of the fact that the IRS does not send unsolicited e-mail, emphasized the federal agency.
Additionally, the IRS never asks taxpayers for personal identification numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.
Recipients of questionable e-mail that appears to come from the IRS should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the e-mail, stressed the federal agency.
Instead, local taxpayers should forward the questionable e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org .
The IRS and the treasury inspector general for tax administration work with the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team and various Internet service providers and international CERT teams to have the phishing sites taken offline as soon as they are reported.
Since the establishment of the mailbox last year, the IRS has received more than 30,000 e-mails from taxpayers reporting almost 400 separate phishing incidents.
To date, investigations have identified host sites in at least 55 different countries as well as in the United States, concluded the IRS.