Phishing Scam Uses IRS Rebate Lure
- By William Jackson
- April 23, 2008
The tax filing season has passed, the economic stimulus rebate season is upon
us, and the phishers are changing their bait.
The lure this time is the $600 rebate ($1,200 per household) that the Internal
Revenue Service will begin sending to taxpayers in May and a supposed opportunity
to speed up the process.
E-mails purporting to be from the IRS are arriving in inboxes with instructions
to recipients that if they visit the linked Web site and provide bank account
and routing numbers, their rebate can be deposited directly to the account more
quickly. To add an element of urgency, the message includes a deadline -- April
24 -- for providing information, but that is likely to change.
Needless to say, the message is a fraud (or a phraud). MX
Logic predicted earlier this year that rebates would be a phishing target,
and reported the first appearances of the e-mails in a recent blog
The IRS has long
been a popular lure for phishers, who seek to tease financial information
out of unsuspecting taxpayers. The e-mails come from phony addresses spoofing
the "irs.gov" domain, and the messages often include logos or other graphic
elements lifted from the IRS Web site. It has become enough of a problem that
the agency has put up a Web
page asking citizens to report phishing, e-mail scams and bogus IRS Web
"The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail,"
the agency warns on the site. "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
The site also contains detailed instructions for forwarding suspect e-mails
to the IRS at email@example.com and offers
examples of phishing e-mails, phony Web sites and resources from the Federal
"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," the IRS advises.
"Get your tax information at IRS.gov, the only Web site sponsored by the
Internal Revenue Service."
William Jackson is the senior writer for Government Computer News (GCN.com).