“Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.” – Sophocles
phish·ing (ˈfiSHiNG/) – noun – the activity of defrauding an online account holder of financial information by posing as a legitimate company.
So, I am sitting in my office, thinking about what to write. Then, an old-timey phone rings – email has arrived. Like manna from the heavens, I have a pair of emails from the taxing authority demanding my attention.
I almost lose continence.
Why? Because, while I have heard about phishing scams from people posing as the Internal Revenue Service, I have not seen one, let alone one so poorly executed. I have posted them in PDF as Exhibits to this blog post.
A few tips about these kids of emails:
1. The Internal Revenue Service DOES NOT email taxpayers.
I can’t even get them to email me things when I am working with an agent. The IRS will send a letter, send a facsimile, or a certified mail.
The IRS lives in 1990 and isn’t even on ARPAnet, so, if you get am email from an IRS agent – WARNING.
2. Tax Inspector is not a real title.
The IRS has titles like Agent, Revenue Officer, Manager, Counsel. Tax Inspector is not a title. Sounds scary, but not real.
3. The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t toss about vague terms like “huge penalty fees.”
The Internal Revenue Service just assesses tax, and if that tax is late or filed improperly, they assess a penalty. As time goes on, they assess interest. They do not assess “huge penalty fees” nor do they try to scare you into forking over information to reduce such fees.
4. The address is not from a proper email account inside the United States Government.
Even if Tax Inspector is a valid title, that’s not a government email address.
5. The subject line makes no sense
Even if Tax Inspector is a valid title, and you have some reason to pass on the email address – the subject line should clue you in.
These are just the simplest examples – not even cleverly put together – of a phishing scam.
If you get one of these, and you re still nervous, just give us a call. Otherwise my suggestion is simple. Press delete.