Fake IRS Email Scam 1042-W

Since it is tax season I thought you should know about another fake IRS email scam that is going around.

This one is a bit different from the malware email that I talked about a while ago. It’s not a virus or malware. It’s just an outright scam. Maybe you would not fall for it, but someone you know might. Typically, the elderly are often more susceptible to scams, so if you have older relatives you should warn them. The fact is, scams like this would not occur if they did not work. Read this yourself so you can warn others. Your identity is at stake.

Two important facts to always remember about emails from the IRS before we go any further.

  1. The IRS never sends an unsolicted email.
  2. The IRS (or any government entity) will never ask for personal information via email.

So, if you get an unexpected email from the IRS you should know right off it is fake. Don’t open it. Don’t forget that just because you sent your taxes in, does not mean that you should expect an email from the IRS back. They are not going to contact you that way. They are not going to contact you by email for any additional information that supposedly was missing in your tax forms by email either. The IRS does not contact by email.

What about the 1042-W email scam?

With this scam, The Mark (that is you) recieves an official looking email with two PDF files attached. Now, by chance, these two emails do not happen to have malware in them this time. If you regularly read this site (in this case just a few days ago) you would know that there are some current dangers in PDF files. This does not even use any malware.

Seal of the Internal Revenue Service
Image via Wikipedia

The first PDF contains an official looking letter (it even uses the IRS logo shown in this post). The letter states that some information is lacking and that you need to supply the additional information to them.

The second PDF is a form that you are to fill out and fax back. The form asks for nearly all the personal information that you could think of. Everything from your mother’s maiden name to your social security number. Everything that you might use to prove that you are, indeed you.

You are then to fax this form with all this personal information to the IRS.

The number they give is to a fax machine in Alberta, Canada. Not Washington D.C. My guess is that number is forwarded somewhere else too. In other words, you just faxed your most important personal information out of the country to a complete stranger that is planning to steal your identity.

As they are not in the US, even if your government were able to track them down, they may not be able to do anything about it anyways. Many scams originate in countries without extradition treaties with the United States. That is one reason so many email scams come from Nigeria. No extradition makes it difficult for our government to do anything even when they know who did it.

Many people won’t even realize their identity has been stolen.

Or in this case, just given away. What do the scammers do with your identity? If they don’t use it themselves, they may sell it to someone else (or sell it to several someone else’s). Your identity may be used for an illegal alien to apply for a job. You may find out about this when the IRS contacts you legitimately about income your not showing on your real tax forms. Income someone else is reporting that you are making. Another way you may find out is when credit companies start asking you to pay for accounts you did not know you had. Maybe you’ll discover when you apply for a loan and find out your credit rating is worse than someone who just went bankrupt.

I’d like to thank Sean-Paul Correll at the Pandalabs blog for providing the information on this scam. Panda Security Anti-Virus Products are among the most effective at blocking malware from getting on your computer and I have been using them for nearly ten years to protect my personal computers. I highly recommend their anti-virus products.

Most of us like to think that we would not fall for the IRS Email Scam in this post.

Chances are, you may know someone that might fall for it. Tell others that might fall for it about scams like this. Share this site with them so they can learn on their own too. Finally, scammers and malware creators don’t just give up. They are going to keep working to find new ways to steal your money and identity.

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