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E-mail Scam Offers Money for IRS Survey

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning of a fraudulent e-mail making way to users' inboxes, promising recipients $80 to answer an online survey on customer satisfaction. The e-mail purports to be from the IRS.

The e-mail appears to show the IRS in its sender's name and subject lines. It also has a copyright statement claiming to be that of the agency's. On clicking the embedded link in the e-mail, the recipient ends up at a hoax Website that asks the user to rate the various aspects of the IRS from friendliness and courtesy to speed of the agency's service, and in the end to supply the person's contact information.

Like any phishing scam, this one too attempts to steal the user's information. In the present case, the fraudsters are after the user's credit card number. phishing attempts always use names of established businesses to obtain personal information. The Federal Trade Commission describes phishing as a specialized scam that sends spam mails to trick consumers into divulging their bank account details, credit card number, password, Social Security number and other information similarly sensitive in nature.

The Internal Revenue Service never contacts its customers with unsolicited e-mails, said Linda Stiff, operations support spokeswoman. NEWSOK.com published Stiff's statement on August 29, 2007. The agency also never solicits taxpayers for private access information like PIN (Personal Identification Number), or bank accounts and credit card details.

The IRS doesn't pay people to answer surveys, said Kenneth Hines, special agent for IRS. Msnbc reported this on August 29, 2007. The IRS cautions that scammers may attempt to use personal information to withdraw money using the victim's credit card account. They may even try the tactics of social engineering to gather additional financial information to be able to access somebody's bank account.

Earlier in July this year, the agency warned about another counterfeit message claiming to come from a Fraud Department of the IRS.

Taxpayers, who come across doubtful e-mail that seemingly arrives from the IRS, should desist from clicking any link or opening any attachment in the message. Instead, they should forward that e-mail to phishing@irs.gov, officials said.

Related article: E-Crime Reporting Format To Be Launched in July

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