MADISON, Wis. (3/3/10)--If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, he might amend his famous dictum, "'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes, and insidious attempts to cheat you via e-mail.” One of the most popular online cons is “phishing,” the request for personal information from an apparently legitimate source. This is the time of year when scammers often use the authoritative name of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to collect financial details from careless victims. The Credit Union National Association's Center for Personal Finance offers this advice to avoid taking the “IRS phishing” bait:
* Do not respond to e-mail that purports to come from the IRS. Do not reply, click on links, or open attachments from someone claiming to represent the IRS or directing you to an IRS site. The Internal Revenue Service does not ask for passwords or other details about your credit union or bank accounts via e-mail--nor do those financial institutions. * Report suspicious e-mails to the IRS. Don’t fall for fake Treasury Department or IRS logos or a tone of urgency. You can see samples of phishing attempts at the IRS website (www.irs.gov), which also includes instructions for forwarding bogus e-mails. * Teach your children to protect their personal information. Young Internet users often take online communications at face value. A healthy skepticism about the Web has become a basic consumer protection skill, and parents can find opportunities to instill it in their children.