The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning consumers nationwide of a recently reported fake e-mail purportedly from the Internal Revenue Service. The FBI says the phishing e-mail is an attempt to steal your information.
Phishing is defined by Webopedia.com as the act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The e-mail directs the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security, and bank account numbers, that the legitimate organization already has. The Web site, however, is bogus and set up only to steal the user's information.
"Various forms of online fraud continue to proliferate on the internet and people should take the appropriate precautions to protect themselves," said Special Agent Richard J. Kolko, FBI National Press Office.
The bogus e-mail advises the recipient that direct deposit is the fastest and easiest way to receive their economic stimulus tax rebate.
The message also contains a hyperlink to a fraudulent online form, which requests the recipient's information, including bank account information. In order to get the receiver to comply, the e-mail states that a failure to complete the form will delay the issuance of the rebate check.
One example of this IRS spam e-mail message is as follows:
"Over 130 million Americans will receive refunds as part of President Bush's program to jumpstart the economy. Our records indicate that you are qualified to receive the 2008 Economic Stimulus Refund.
The fastest and easiest way to receive your refund is by direct deposit to your checking/savings account.
Please follow the link and fill out the form and submit before May 10th, 2008 to ensure that your refund will be processed as soon as possible.
Submitting your form on May 10th, 2008 or later means that your refund will be delayed due to the volume of requests we anticipate for the Economic Stimulus Refund.
To access Economic Stimulus refund, please click here."
You should be wary of unsolicited e-mails. Experts recommend not to open e-mails from unknown senders, because they often contain viruses or other malicious software.
It is also recommended to avoid clicking links in e-mails received from unknown senders as this is a popular method of directing victims to phishing websites.
If you have received an e-mail similar to this, please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint.
Sources: FBI, Webopedia.com