FRAUD ALERT: Fraudulent IRS Emails
Fraudulent and malicious emails purporting to be from the IRS are circulating. No one likes to get communications from the IRS and we may become over-anxious to comply with an email that appears to come from them. However, any email from the IRS should raise immediate fraud suspicions.
Here’s one I recently received:
You are encouraged to pay a penalty for the failure to file income tax returns prior to January 31, 2012.
Note, IRC [Section 6038(b)(1)]
provides for a monetary penalty of $10,000 for each [Form 5471]
that is filed after the due date of the income tax return or does not include the complete and accurate information described in [Section 6038(a)].
No penalty will be imposed if the company shows that the late filing was due to reasonable cause.
For more information please refer to attached file.
Internal Revenue Service United States Department of the Treasury.
Tue, 13 Dec 2011 00:06:19 +0900
Its unusual phrasing (“You are encouraged to pay a penalty…”) and the exclamation point after the salutation made me immediately suspicious of the invitation. It sure didn’t sound like anything I expected the IRS to say. Furthermore, the IRS website confirms that the IRS does not generally send unsolicited e-mails to taxpayers.
Similar to the DHL, Adobe, WOW and American Airlines email scams recently reported on FraudAvengers blogs, it tries to get the recipient to click on a .zip file that contains malicious code that can infect your computer with viruses, worms or imbed key logging programs in your computer that pass your log-on credentials and other personal information on to crooks who use them to steal your identity.
Instructions from the IRS are:
- Do not reply.
- Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
- Do not click on any links.
If you clicked on links in a suspicious email or phishing website and entered confidential information, visit our identity protection page.
- Forward the email as-is, to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- After you forward the email and/or header information to us, delete the original email message you received.
The IRS website also informs us that, due to the volumes they receive, you should not expect a reply from them. Just be comforted in knowing that the IRS needs these emails to help track them back to their source and by forwarding your email, you are helping them in their search for the miscreants who are sending them.