In recent weeks, a phony e-mail claiming to come from the IRS has been circulating in large numbers. The subject line of the e-mail often states that the e-mail is a notice of underreported income. The e-mail may contain an attachment or a link to a bogus Web page directing taxpayers to their "tax statement." In either case, when the recipient opens the attachment or clicks on the link, they download a Trojan horse-type of virus to their computers.
Malicious code (also known as malware), of which the Trojan horse is but one example, can take over the victim's computer hard drive, giving someone remote access to the computer, or it could look for passwords and other information and send them to the scammer. The scammer will then use whatever information they gather to commit identity theft, gain access to bank accounts and more.
The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mails to taxpayers about their tax accounts. Anyone who receives an unsolicited e-mail claiming to come from the IRS should avoid opening any attachments or clicking on any links. People can report suspicious e-mails they receive which claim to come from the IRS to a mailbox set up for this purpose, firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who believe they may already be victims of identity theft should find out what do by going to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's Web site, OnGuardOnLine.gov.
More information on e-mail scams may be viewed on How to Report and Identify Phishing, E-mail Scams and Bogus IRS Web Sites and Suspicious e-Mails and Identity Theft.
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