April 4, 2008

ATLANTA, GA – The Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs is warning consumers of an email phishing scam designed to look like it’s from the IRS.

Sent under the heading “Internal Revenue Service Tax Notification”, the email informs the recipient he can get his tax refund as a credit applied to his VISA or MasterCard. The recipient is instructed to provide his Social Security number and a valid VISA or MasterCard account number by following a web link that leads to a form cleverly disguised to look like a page from the real IRS website. Even the hyperlinked letters of the link may appear to be valid -- www.irs.gov -- but the user is actually being directed to a fraudulent site. Unwitting consumers who provide their personal and financial information as prompted are actually submitting their information to identity thieves, who may proceed to run up charges on the victim’s credit card account or to apply for loans, credit cards or other credit accounts using the victim’s name and Social Security number.

Consumers should be aware that the IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail. In addition, the IRS does not request detailed personal information through e-mail or ask taxpayers for the PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for their credit card, bank or other financial accounts.

If you want to access the IRS website, do not click on or copy any links provided to you in emails. Instead, type www.irs.gov into your web browser.

If you have received a questionable e-mail claiming to come from the IRS, forward it to [email protected], using instructions contained on the IRS website. This will help the IRS track the suspicious e-mail to its origins and shut down the scam. To access the instructions:

Visit www.irs.gov.

  • Go to the “I need to…” box in the top right section of the page.
  • Choose “Report Phishing” from the scroll-down menu.
  • Click “Go”