Congratulations to I and the Bird
When love goes bad: Divorce and taxes

Summer tax phishing season

Wow! I am so lucky!

I just got "good news" in my e-mail box from an IRS "Tax Refund Specialist" that the agency's "annual calculation" has revealed that I'm eligible for a refund of more than 90 bucks!

I am so excited about this unexpected windfall that I want to share the complete message with you:

Good News,

After the last annual calculation of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $93.82. Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 2-4 days in order to process it.

A refund can be delayed for a variety of reason. For exemple (invalid records or applying after the deadline). The good news is that IRS will make this refund directly to your visa and/or mastercard linked to your checking/savings account instead a check or a direct deposit.

To access the form for your tax refund, please continue to our secure form "Tax Refund V-M".

Important: Do not use credit and/or american express or discover cards.

Only cards that are linked to your checking/savings account are accepted.

Regards,
Stephen Bronner
Internal Revenue Service - Tax Refund Specialist

Say what? Yes, "example" was misspelled as "exemple" in the original message.

Yes, the credit card names were all lowercase.

And, while it didn't reproduce here, the original e-mail displayed two different font types.

All these quirks are because "Mr. Bronner," who no doubt doesn't go by that name and might not even be a mister, is a crook. A sloppy, lazy criminal who cut and pasted this message from a fellow con artist who's also sending it around, probably to many of you.

These scum are hoping that those of us who get this crap in our in-boxes are stupid enough to take the bait and pass along credit/debit card information linked to our checking or savings accounts.

They don't want to mess around with our charge cards. They just want to wipe out our bank accounts.

Fish_in_a_net_2Year-round phishing season: These phishing scams are very prevalent during tax season. But as my "good news" e-mail demonstrates, identity thieves work year round.

In fact, I've blogged on these scams many times, including, but not limited, to items here (March 26, 2006), here (March 28, 2006), here (April 3, 2007) and here (May 31, 2007).

Regardless of when you get the bogus e-mail -- and remember, e-mails purportedly from the IRS are always fake; that's not how Uncle Sam contacts individual taxpayers -- don't fall for them. Instead, forward the scam communiqué to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

And never, ever click on any link in these phony e-mails.

The message I just got had a link to the fictional "Tax Refund V-M" form. But that and other links in fake e-mails could contain a virus or other malevolent program that could infect your computer and/or allow criminals to take it over.

The IRS has some more tips on protecting yourself from phishing schemes here (en español aqui), as well as background on such scams and efforts to stop them here.

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