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SARS Reports Another Phishing Attack

South African Revenue Services (SARS) has issued a warning to all the taxpayers in the country to be careful of fake tax refund e-mails that are currently in circulation.

The fake e-mails claims that the recipient is liable to receive a tax refund whose amount varies from one taxpayer to the other. The e-mail provides recipients a link that directs them to an online SARS form required to be filled by the taxpayers so as to claim their refund.

In this regard, SARS stated that several taxpayers in South Africa had received fake e-mails from bogus e-mail address 'return@sars.co.za', as reported by ITNewsAfrica on May 8, 2009.

SARS further explained that it is a traditional phishing scam, generally conducted via e-mails and usually instructs the e-mail recipients to fill all their personal confidential details on a fake webpage that almost resembles the legitimate page. Moreover, phishing is an illegal technique of obtaining sensitive user information, like passwords, usernames as well as credit card information by implanting a reliable entity in an electronic communication.

Meanwhile, pulling its hand out of the scam, SARS advised the e-mail recipients to avoid opening or responding to the unsolicited or suspected e-mails. People are also advised to remain cautious of the e-mails asking for their personal details because SARS never asks for such details via an e-mail. SARS further said that it deposits the refund into the bank account of the eligible taxpayers automatically.

Besides, to verify whether or not they are on the original website of SARS, tax payers should look for the letter 's' in https somewhere at the beginning of e-Filing website address as well as for the golden lock sign in address bar on some web browsers.

SARS asked the tax payers either to contact the Fraud and Anti-Corruption Hotline on the number 0800 00 2870, or to e-mail at Infosec@sars.gov.za so as to report about the receipt such e-mail or to get detailed information on the issues related to phishing.

According to security experts, SARS has not reported the phishing scam related to tax refund for the first time. It was just in February 2009 when a similar online tax refund scam had been reported.

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