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Taxation & Estate Planning: IRS Problem Solver Blog
Phishing Scam aimed at Military originates from Florida?
By Darrin Mish
The IRS has revealed a new phishing scam aimed at members of the military. A phishing scam is where fraudulent emails that appear to be from a genuine source are sent soliciting for personal information which is then used for illegal purposes. IRS spokeswoman Diane Besunder says, "The information on these documents is then used by the scammers to commit identity theft.? A stolen identity almost always leads to stolen assets or fraudulent borrowing using the name of the victim.
In this latest phishing scam, an email has been sent to members of the Department of Defense, retirees and civilian employees purportedly from the Defense Finance and Accounting Services. The sender?s email address looks like it contains a .mil suffix making it appear to be legitimately from the Defense Department. This email claims that members of the military who are receiving disability compensation from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) are entitled to extra money.
The email goes on to ask the recipient to send various VA and IRS documents like their VA Award letters and tax documents to an address in Florida. The objective is to use the victims? identities to steal money from their bank accounts, apply for loans, credit cards or other services in the name of the victim. In a statement, Besunder said, ?Typically, identity thieves use someone's personal data to empty the victim's financial accounts, run up charges on the victim's existing credit cards or apply for new loans, credit cards, services or benefits in the victim's name."
As far as the IRS is concerned, it is important to know that the IRS will never send unsolicited emails to taxpayers asking for personal and financial information such as bank or credit card numbers, bank PINs, passwords, Social Security numbers etc. Various tax-related phishing scams are common, such as those that claim the taxpayer is entitled to a tax refund and soliciting personal and financial information in order to credit the refund to their bank accounts.
Various steps can be taken to avoid becoming a victim to phishing scams.
? Never reveal personal or financial details online.
? Do not carry documents containing your Social Security number with you.
? When using your credit card, always make sure you personally see the card being swiped instead of handing it over to a worker who may do anything with it without your knowledge
? Constantly check your financial records like credit card and bank account statements
? Install a firewall in your computer to ward off spam emails
? Change your PINs and passwords often
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