The IRS has warned taxpayers of a new phishing scam, in which an e-mail purporting to come from the agency advises taxpayers they can receive $80 by filling out an online customer satisfaction survey.
In this case, the e-mail 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, or so the soliciting e-mail claims. There are references to the IRS in the “from” line and the “subject” line of the e-mail, and the link to the survey and a copyright statement at the bottom of the e-mail also reference the IRS. Additionally, the survey form features the IRS logo. It’s all a ruse, of course.
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. After all, how else to credit your account? Or to tap into same?
That’s an update on the “click” scam alert the IRS put out in June regarding a “Tax Avoidance Investigation” e-mail. That purportedly came from the IRS’ “Fraud Department”, and asked the recipient to complete an “investigation form,” for which there is a link contained in the e-mail, because of possible fraud that the recipient committed. The IRS cautioned that clicking on the link in that email could activate a Trojan Horse.
That, in turn, follows a May alert about an email purporting to be from IRS Criminal Investigation that falsely claimed that the recipient is under a criminal probe for submitting a false tax return to the California Franchise Tax Board. The e-mail seeks to entice people to click on a link or open an attachment to learn more information about the complaint against them – a link and attachment that was a Trojan Horse that can take over the person’s computer hard drive and allow someone to have remote access to the computer.
Pay No Attention
The IRS urges taxpayers to ignore this solicitation and not provide any requested information. According to a press release, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers through e-mail.
“Everyone should beware of these scam artists,” said Kevin M. Brown, Acting IRS Commissioner. “Always exercise caution when you receive unsolicited e-mails or e-mails from senders you don’t know.”
Recipients of questionable e-mails claiming to come from the IRS should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the e-mails. Instead, they should forward the e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org (follow the instructions).