Don't Get Scammed

By Matthew Harwood

Identity thieves and other cybercriminals are prowling cyberspace this tax season, reports PC World.

Scam artists exploiting tax season have devised a range of new online cons: fake tax documents that contain malicious surprises; mass distribution of keyloggers aimed at snatching the identity of PC-based tax filers; and e-mail messages containing links to Web sites that promise new tax code information but instead push malware onto your PC.

That's not all, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This year, identity thieves are not just trying to gain access to your bank account or to open lines of credit in your name. Scammers are on the prowl for ordinary citizens' identities that they can they can use in filing phony tax returns and fraudulently claiming refunds, as well as to swipe rebates associated with the 2008 federal economic stimulus package.

One elderly woman in Jacksonville, Florida, almost fell for one scam in which an e-mail dressed up to look like it came from the IRS asked her to divulge her personal information in return for her tax refund.

According to, Carolyn Hicks said the e-mail wanted her "e-mail, full name, billing address, city, state, zip code, phone number, date of birth, mother's maiden name, Social Security number, credit card and PIN number."

She said if the e-mail hadn't asked for her credit card's PIN number, she would have fallen for the scam, and possibly had her finances cleaned out.

PC World says the increase in Web-based scams reflects the fact that more Americans are filing their taxes online. Twenty-two million people filed their taxes online last year, according to Webroot, an antivirus and antispyware security provider, an increase of 11 percent over the previous year.





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