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Phishing scheme mimics IRS site

Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2007

A new phishing scheme involving the Internal Revenue Service is turning up in peoples' e-mail inboxes. The scam asks for social security and credit card numbers and directs people to a Web site entitled "Get Your Tax Refund!" a phony imitation of the IRS's "Where's My Refund?" Web site.

Judy Monahan, IRS media contact for the state of Alaska, said the IRS never sends out unsolicited e-mails and doesn't ask for secret financial information such as PIN numbers and passwords.

"If you get one of these phishing e-mails don't open the attachment," she said, adding that people should forward phony IRS e-mails to phishing@irs.gov. "That's so we can go to the proper authorities in order to shut down the host sites."

Monahan and the IRS became aware of the phishing scheme on Sept. 19 from complaints sent in by consumers. When that happens, they forward those complaints to the Treasury Inspector General's office for Tax Administration (TIGTA), which heads up the investigation to determine where those e-mails are coming from and who is sending them.

Bonnie Heald, congressional media spokeswoman for TIGTA, said her office has received a total of 32,337 complaints nationwide related specifically to the Sept. 19 threat alone. The phishing schemes are coming from a total of 55 countries and her office has identified 338 separate phishing host sites, but no arrests have been made yet.

For more information on phishing schemes and the IRS and instructions on how to forward fake e-mails to the agency visit www.irs.gov.

Jessica Cejnar can be reached at jessica.cejnar@peninsulaclarion.com.



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