Monday, March 8, 2010

Tax Season = Fraud Artists

Tax season means computer criminals are going to be out in force, pumping out bogus e-mails that purport to be from the Internal Revenue Service. These messages ask you to supply personal information in all kinds of scams. Often the scam e-mails offer help speeding up the preparation of tax returns or securing a big refund.

The e-mails also might just be a cover for criminals to install malicious software on your computers, by tricking you into opening attachments or visiting poisoned Web sites.

Scam e-mails can be stunningly convincing, so you often can't tell just by looking at them whether they're real or fake. They can use authentic-looking IRS logos and even e-mail addresses: Scammers can make it appear as if they're writing from a legitimate government e-mail address, so you can't trust the "from" line in e-mails you receive.

So what should you do to protect yourself?

Don't supply your personal information, such as Social Security numbers or credit card numbers, to anyone e-mailing you for it. The e-mails might state that they just need a few pieces of personal information to get started. The IRS doesn't discuss tax matters with people by e-mail.

Also, don't open attachments or follow links in unsolicited e-mails. When it comes to computer security, if someone's offering you something online that you didn't ask for, chances are you probably don't want it.

On the Web:
IRS warns of computer scams.


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