“You’re Under Investigation”: A New IRS Email Scam

Two new phishing scams: an IRS email scam and a Red Cross telephone scam: Internet ScamBusters #253

Today we focus on two fairly new phishing scams: one by email — an IRS email scam — and a specially treacherous telephone scam targeting military spouses that supposedly comes from Red Cross representatives.

Before we get started, we suggest you visit last week’s most popular articles from our other websites:

Why Do So Many Turn to American Express for Their Credit Card Needs? Find out how American Express credit cards stand apart from the competition.

Let’s Warm Up America! One Square at a Time: A knitting charity called Warm Up America! helps the homeless through volunteers who create handmade afghan blankets, clothing and accessories to help those in need.

The New World of Online Movie Rentals: Discover how online movie rentals have drastically evolved over the past couple of years.

Is There a Hospital Cash Card in Your Wallet? Get to the bottom line on whether hospital cash cards are worth the investment.

Time to get going…

“You’re Under Investigation”: A New IRS Email Scam

The Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers to avoid falling for another new variant of an IRS email scam in which victims receive a fake email claiming they are the subjects of a criminal probe by “IRS Criminal Investigation.”

The email states that the recipient filed a false tax return to the California Franchise Tax Board, and must click on a link in the email — or download an attachment — to learn more about the complaint.

Anyone clicking on the link or opening the attachment will unleash a Trojan Horse that can take over the person’s hard drive and allow scammers to gain remote access to the computer.

“The IRS [urges] people not to click the link in the email or open the attachment. “Similar email variations suggest a customer has filed a complaint against a company and the IRS can act as an arbitrator. The latest versions appear aimed at business taxpayers as well as individual taxpayers.

“The IRS does not send out unsolicited emails or ask for detailed personal and financial information. Additionally, the IRS never asks people for the PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for their credit card, bank or other financial accounts.”

The IRS asks that anyone receiving such emails forward them to phishing@irs.gov

Action: If you receive ANY unsolicited email supposedly from the IRS, DELETE it.

It’s 100% guaranteed phony!

Read more about IRS email scams, including an IRS audit scam and a scam regarding checking for IRS refunds.

Fake Red Cross Telephone Scam Targets Military Spouses

In a particularly insidious scam, telephone callers pretending to be Red Cross representatives are contacting military families with relatives overseas, claiming that a family member has been hurt, and that personal and financial information must be supplied before treatment can begin.

Although many people are aware that identity thieves request this kind of information over the telephone, military spouses are certainly more vulnerable when they receive this kind of call.

Therefore, scammers have found that this is an effective way to get military spouses to give personal and financial information that they would not usually consider giving out. After all, they want to make sure their spouse is treated as quickly as possible.

The Red Cross has issued a press release about this Red Cross scam.

It reads, in part:

“The American Red Cross has learned about a new scam targeting military families. This scam takes the form of false information to military families as described below:

“The caller (young-sounding, American accent) calls a military spouse and identifies herself as a representative from the Red Cross. The caller states that the spouse’s husband (not identified by name) was hurt while on duty in Iraq and was med-evacuated to a hospital in Germany.

“The caller stated they couldn’t start treatment until paperwork was accomplished, and that in order to start the paperwork they needed the spouse to verify her husband’s Social Security number and date of birth. In this case, the spouse was quick to catch on and she did not provide any information to the caller.

“The American Red Cross representatives typically do not contact military members/dependents directly and almost always go through a commander or first sergeant channels. Military family members are urged not to give out any personal information over the phone if contacted by unknown/unverified individuals, to include confirmation that your spouse is deployed.”

Action: Do NOT give out personal information if you receive this type of call. If you have a family member serving overseas, remember that the American Red Cross will NOT contact you directly, unless you first contact them.

This isn’t the first time scammers have posed as members of the Red Cross or other charitable organizations — and sadly we know it will not be the last time.

Find out more about how to protect yourself from other charity scams.

That’s a wrap for this issue. Wishing you a great week!