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ID theft

All about how it happens and how you can keep it from happening to you.

Tax season, Part II: Phishing expeditions

I wrote yesterday about how important it is to safeguard your mail during tax season to protect yourself from identity theft. Today’s installment is about how to avoid getting hooked by phishing scams.

The first and most important thing you need to know is that the IRS will never, NEVER send you an information request via email. Yet that’s the ploy used in a phishing attacks during tax season. Last year the IRS shut down almost 1,700 websites where taxpayers were directed via phishing email links.

In the phishing emails they will ask you to reply to their email or click on a link to confirm your Social Security number, bank account number, date of birth, etc. Never click on a link provided in an email that looks like it’s from the IRS.

Most people believe they can identify a phishing email by carefully examining the graphics for authenticity, but when put to the test, more than 60% of the phishing emails were thought to be the genuine article. The graphics and lay out are impeccable. It’s that simple to cut and paste or duplicate the graphics from a legitimate website and use them for phishing.

Besides knowing that the IRS won’t ever ask for information via email, another sure tip off that an email is a fake is the presence of misspelled words, bad grammar or poor punctuation.

Click here to take a quick 10-question quiz provided by the good folks at SonicWALL Inc. to see if you can discern legitimate emails from phishing expeditions. I eat, sleep and breath ID theft and was sure I'd ace this quiz.  I didn't. On the upside, the ones I missed were legitimate emails that I thought were fakes!

Published Jan 14 2009, 05:24 PM by IdentityTheft
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