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  • Archive for November, 2007

    IRS warns of new email scam

    Friday, November 9th, 2007

    The IRS last week warned Internet users against a new email scam soliciting donations for those affected by the recent California wildfires. From the Associated Press article:

    “The tax agency said the bogus e-mails appear to be a “phishing scheme” that tries to trick recipients into revealing personal and financial information that can be used to steal a person’s assets.

    The IRS said it does not send e-mails soliciting charitable donations and never asks people for the PIN numbers, passwords or other secret information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.

    People “should avoid opening any attachments or clicking on any links until they can verify the e-mail’s legitimacy,” IRS Deputy Commissioner for Operations Support Richard Spires said in a statement.

    The agency said the scam e-mail urges recipients to click on a link which opens on a fake IRS Web site. That site includes a link to a donation form which requests the recipient’s personal and financial information.”

    The IRS is not the only institution scam artists cite in attempts to trick people into giving out personal information. I received this email in the WISER inbox this morning, supposedly from Bank of America Military Bank:

    Dear Bank of America Military Bank customer,

    We regret to inform you that we have received numerous fraudulent e-mails which ask for personal information. Please remember that we will never ask for personal information through e-mail or websites.

    Because of this we are launching a new security system to make Bank of the Cascades cards more secure and safe. To take advantage of our new consumer Identity Theft Protection Program we had to deactivate all Debit/ATM cards.

    To reactivate your card please call (800) 609-0579 and follow the steps.

    Reactivation is free of charge and will take place as soon as you finish the process.

    It almost sounds believable. Ironically, email scams such as these prey upon consumers’ fears of identity theft in order to steal their identities. Bank of America Military Bank is a legitimate branch of Bank of America, which makes actual members of this bank more susceptible to the scam. WISER is not a member, so it was easy for me to disregard the message as a scam.

    Many people have asked WISER what to do upon encountering these emails. The IRS encourages anyone who comes across these emails to forward them to phishing@irs.gov. For more information on how to do this, go to “how to protect yourself from suspicious e-mails or phishing schemes” on the IRS website, http://www.irs.gov. The agency says it has received over 30,000 emails alerting them to potential scams since the mailbox opened last year. I also made a phone call to Bank of America Military Bank (the real number from their website: not the number given in the email), whose staff immediately informed me that the email is indeed a scam and to please forward the email to abuse@bankofamerica.com.

    Seniors are particularly vulnerable to financial fraud and abuse. For more information on how to protect yourself and those you love, download WISER’s Spring 2007 Newsletter, featuring the article “Sweetheart or Sweetheart Scam?”

    Have you been a victim of identity theft? Tell us your story: Send an email to info@wiserwomen.org with the subject line, Identity Theft.

    WISER

    About Us

    WISER is a nonprofit organization that works to help women, educators and policymakers understand the important issues surrounding women's retirement income. WISER creates a variety of consumer publications including fact sheets, booklets and a quarterly newsletter that explain in easy-to-understand language the complex issues surrounding Social Security, divorce, pay equity, pensions, savings and investments, banking, home-ownership, long-term care and disability insurance.

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