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Phishing scams

Question :I got an e-mail message from the IRS saying I had a tax refund and directing me to its Web site for collection. Is this a new standard practice?

Answer : E-mail messages asking you to click on a link and fill out a form on a Web site are a standard practice for identity thieves and con artists wishing to steal credit card numbers. This practice is called phishing.

Phishing messages warning of account issues and purporting to be from eBay, PayPal, banks and the IRS have been flooding the Internet. They are intended to dupe unsuspecting people into giving over personal information like credit cards or Social Security numbers.

The messages may look real but return addresses are easy to forge, as are the counterfeit Web sites that collect the data. (If you use your mail program's option to look at the full message headers, you will probably find that most of these messages are originating from free Web-mail accounts and not the IRS or eBay.)

As a rule of thumb, never click a Web-site link in one of these messages. If you want to check your account at PayPal, for example, go directly to www.paypal.com yourself and do not trust the link in the message. You can find information on protecting yourself from phishing scams at onguardonline.gov/phishing.html.


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