According to this email, which claims to be from America’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you are required to verify your billing information because your records have recently changed. It instructs you to open an attached file and load it in your browser in order to validate your information.
The message warns that if you don’t abide by the instructions, your tax refund may be restricted.
However, the email is not from the IRS and the claims that you must verify your information is a lie.
Instead, the email is a typical phishing scam designed to steal your personal information. If you click the attached file, a form will open in your default web browser (see screenshot in example below). The form, which features the IRS logo, asks you to provide a significant amount of sensitive personal information, including your SSN, your driver’s licence number, and name, contact, and employment details. The form even asks for details about your spouse.
If you fill in the form and hit the submit button, cybercriminals can use the information you supplied to steal your identity.
In this case, the scammers have included the form as an attached HTML document in an effort to bypass browser phishing scam filters. In other cases, the scammers may ask you to click a link that opens a bogus website designed to look like a genuine IRS web page.
The IRS warns people about such phishing scams on its website, noting:
The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.
Tax refund related scams are very common and target taxpayers in a number of countries. The following Hoax-Slayer YouTube video provides more information about such scams.
Subject: Your IRS Information Change Notification
It has come to our attention that your Information records are recently changed. That requires you to verify your Billing Information. Failure to validate your information may result to your tax termination and you will not be allowed to file this year tax refund.
To verify your information, Please Download Attachment and open in a browser to Continue. We value your privacy and your preferences…
Failure to abide by these instructions may subject you to tax refund restrictions and you may not be allowed to file this year tax refund.
IRS Support Center
Last updated: January 18, 2016
First published: January 18, 2016
By Brett M. Christensen