Government Scams: IRS Tax Refund Scams - Notification of Tax Refund on your VISA or MasterCard Now

Fake Government Agencies
IRS Scams - Fake Refund Email from the Internal Revenue Service
"Notification of Tax Refund on your VISA or MasterCard Now"

Have you received an email from the IRS, telling you that "Notification of Tax Refund on your VISA or MasterCard Now"; then  instructing you to "access the form for your tax refund, click here"?

It is a scam.  The IRS will never, never email you unless you first contact them.  They WILL NOT EVER email you to tell you you owe money or are due to receive a refund; or for any other reason. Count on it.

If you hold your mouse over the link to IRS.gov/refunds, you would see that it does NOT go to the IRS, but instead to a page on http://pay.irsarefuned.com/ which is clearly operating a scam and a fraud. We neutered the link in case it harbors a virus.


Sample Scam FBI Email:

April 6, 2009, CFR received the following email:

From: Internal Revenue Service <service@irs.ta.gov>
Date: 2008/2/29
Subject: Notification of Tax Refund on your VISA or MasterCard Now

Notification of Tax Refund on your VISA or MasterCard Now,

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $99.23. A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons.

Fox example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.
Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience.
To access the form for your tax refund please copy/paste the link below in your browser (or click the link below) 

  http://www.IRS.gov/refunds.php

Note: For security reasons, we will record your ip-address, the date and time.
Deliberate wrong inputs are criminally pursued and indicated.

Regards,
Internal Revenue Service


Copyright 2007, Internal Revenue Service U.S.A.


Review:

The link in the email (http://www.IRS.gov/refunds.php ) actually goes to http://pay.irsarefuned.com/.

According to Who.is, that domain was privately registered at:

Registrar: REGISTER.COM, INC.
Whois Server: whois.register.com
Referral URL: http://www.register.com

Expiration Date: 2009-02-25
Creation Date: 2008-02-25
Last Update Date: 2008-02-29

The IP address is 127.0.0.1  and belongs to:

OrgName:    Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
OrgID:      IANA
Address:    4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
City:       Marina del Rey
StateProv:  CA
PostalCode: 90292-6695
Country:    US

McAfee's Site Advisor says this, if you attempt to visit the spoof website:

pay.irsarefuned.com/ may try to steal your information.

Why were you redirected to this page? When we visited this site, we found it may be designed to trick you into submitting your financial or personal information to online scammers. This is a serious security threat which could lead to identity theft, financial losses or other dissemination of personal information.

Clearly, this email and it's associated website is criminal activity intended to steal your money!


Recommendations:

If you receive a call from this number or any group that claims to represent a government agency, take down their information, including the contact's name, phone number, etc. Do NOT give them any personal or financial information, especially not a credit card, checking or bank account number, passport number, etc.

Next, look up the direct phone or email address for the agency they claim to represent and call them.  Read them the email and ask if it could have come from their agency.

While we don't want to encourage people to ignore correspondence from legal government agencies, it is a safe bet that NO U.S. government agency will make any first contact with you by email. Certainly not the FBI or IRS. Resources such as LifeLock.com identity theft programs are one way to continually monitor and prevent any credit and personal data breaches with teams that notify you if there are any changes to your information.

The IRS offers this advice:

If you receive an unsolicited e-mail purporting to be from the IRS, take the following steps:

  • Do not open any attachments to the e-mail, in case they contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
  • Contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine whether the IRS is trying to contact you about a tax refund.

And please let us know about any suspicious calls or emails you receive.  We look for patterns so that we can alert the authorities and victims to new scams, before it is too late!


How to Report a Tax Refund Scam Email:

If you receive a suspicious e-mail that claims to come from the IRS,

  1. Forward it to the IRS (phishing@irs.gov and
  2. Send a copy to ConsumerFraudReporting.org (via the feedback form)
  3. Please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at www.ic3.gov and

Follow instructions in the link below for sending the bogus e-mail to ensure that it retains critical elements found in the original e-mail. The IRS can use the information, URLs and links in the suspicious e-mails you send to trace the hosting Web site and alert authorities to help shut down the fraudulent sites. Unfortunately, due to the expected volume, the IRS will not be able to acknowledge receipt or respond to you.

In the United States, you may also contact:

U.S. Secret Service
Financial Crimes Division
1800 G Street, NW
Room 942
Washington, DC 20223

Phone: (202) 4355850

Fax: (202) 4355031

Or contact the local U.S. Secret Service Field Office.

Frequently Asked Questions - 1.13 IRS Procedures: Reporting Fraud

How to Report Abusive Tax Promotions and/or Promoters:
Complete the referral form  which documents the information necessary to report an abusive tax avoidance scheme. The form can be mailed or faxed to the IRS address and fax number on the form.

How to Report Abusive CPAs, Attorneys or Enrolled Agents:
Report suspicious actions by tax professionals to the email address  of the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.

 

Overseas

Contact the Foreign Commercial Service (FSC) at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If there is no FCS office, contact the American Citizens Services Unit of the Consular Section or the Regional Security Office.

For a comprehensive list of national and international agencies to report scams, see this page.

 


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