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Latest round of email phishing scams hitting inboxes
Email scammers are getting increasingly creative in identity-theft pursuits. Realistic- looking messages, appearing to be from reputable firms, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Better Business Bureau, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, actually are attempts to steal money.
The latest message, which comes from the address firstname.lastname@example.org, alerts the recipient that his or her tax appeal motion has been rejected and that it must be resubmitted by following a link contained in the message. The message even displays the agency’s logos.
When identity theft takes place over the Internet, it is called “phishing,” according to an IRS press release about numerous scams that utilize the agency’s name. The IRS maintains a list of common phishing scams that target the agency, which highlights ruses, such as penalties for filing late returns, registration for an event for tax professionals, the need for updating of the recipient’s tax information, and more. Each of the messages includes a link to a form or other site that will ask the recipient to provide personal information.
Anyone receiving these types of messages is urged not to open the links, but to forward the messages to email@example.com, then delete the messages.
An email message allegedly from the Better Business Bureau, in which business owners are informed of accusations of racial discrimination involving identity theft, also is making the rounds. The recipient is directed to click a link, which asks for information about their company.
A Feb. 24 press release from the Upstate South Carolina chapter of the bureau warns about this very scam, and urges recipients of the messages not to click on the links. Phony emails referencing the bureau can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The bureau also suggests making sure virus software is up-to-date.
A Feb. 29 press release from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warns of a message with the subject line, “Consumer complaint regarding your company,” which alleges a consumer report of financial misconduct. It asks the recipient to click a link and provide feedback related to the bogus complaint.
The organization suggests that recipients do not respond to the message and refrain from clicking any links or providing personal information. It does not, however, give information about where to forward the messages.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center actively investigates and prosecutes Internet-based scams, such as phishing. Anyone who believes they have fallen victim to such a crime is urged to visit http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx.
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