MADISON, Wis. (6/11/08)--Be on the lookout for an e-mail from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) encouraging you to submit a form to make sure you get your economic stimulus check. Why? The e-mail is not
from the IRS, and if you click on the link, it’s likely you’ll be the victim of a scam, according to the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA's) center for personal finance. Susan Tiffany, CUNA's director of adult education, warns recipients to report the crime and then hit the delete key. “It’s a very convincing-looking scam that’s sure to trip up many folks who fear missing out on their stimulus check,” says Tiffany. The e-mail Tiffany received urges the reader to click on a link in the e-mail, fill out a form, and submit the form before June 10 for a speedy refund. The end of the message acknowledges that you may have received the e-mail in your spam folder “because of the large amount of e-mails we are sending out or because of the restrictions implemented by your ISP (Internet service provider).” Don’t fall for that line, either. The message is a ploy to redirect you to the crook’s website to capture your personal information and commit fraud. If you receive an unsolicited e-mail claiming to be from the IRS, the IRS offers this advice:
* Never provide personal information in response to unsolicited e-mails. The IRS does not initiate contact with you via e-mail messages, nor does the IRS request PINs, passwords, or other access information for your credit card or for other financial accounts. * Never click on attachments to questionable e-mails. The attachments may contain malicious code that infects your computer with viruses. * Forward the original message to firstname.lastname@example.org. However, don’t open the message in order to forward it. Create a new message and then drag and drop the original message into the body of the new message. For specific instructions for your e-mail provider (MS Outlook, Outlook Express, Mulberry, and so on), go to irs.gov and type “report phishing” in the search box. * Report the scam to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Call 800-366-4484 to report misuse of the IRS name, logo, forms, or other IRS property. * Report this or other suspicious e-mails to the Federal Trade Commission. Go to email@example.com, or call 877-IDTHEFT (877-438-4338).
If you think you’ve been the victim of ID theft, call one of the three credit bureau fraud units immediately: Experian: 888-397-3742; Equifax: 800-525-6285; TransUnion: 800-680-7289. Then notify creditors, close affected accounts, and file a police report.