Friday, July 14, 2006

IRS Renews Phishing Awareness Campaign

The IRS is reacting to recent phishing attempts, which are designed to steal people's personal information. Once stolen, this information is normally used in "identity theft" schemes, but they could be used by illegal immigrants (or in theory) terrorists.

In a recent release from the IRS site:

The IRS saw an increase in complaints in recent weeks about these e-mails, which are designed to trick the recipients into disclosing personal and financial information that could be used to steal the recipients’ identity and financial assets.

“The IRS does not send out unsolicited e-mails asking for personal information,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “Don’t be taken in by these criminals.”

The IRS has seen a recent increase in these scams. Since November, 99 different scams have been identified, with 20 of those coming in June – the most since 40 were identified in March during the height of the filing season.

Many of these schemes originate outside the United States. To date, investigations by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration have identified sites hosting more than two dozen IRS-related phishing scams. These scam Web sites have been located in many different countries, including Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, England, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Singapore and Slovakia, as well as the United States.

If you get any of these e-mails, the IRS requests that you forward them to I highly recommend that you do so - the IRS seems to be actively investigating them.

For the full news release: Click Here.

Here is a story from about illegal immigrants using people's personal information.

In another vein, here is a story (released in March by the Washington Post) about how tax preparers are trying to "legally" sell information from people's tax returns.

Sadly enough, my personal belief that the current "identity theft" crisis has (in part) been spawned by the mass gathering of people's personal information for marketing purposes.

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