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Internet Scams Continue To Appear Locally

By Staff | Feb 3, 2009

If there were ever a time where the expression “buyer beware” was more appropriate, one might be hard-pressed to think of it. While Internet scams are an almost everyday occurrence in our society, some enterprising Internet thugs are trying new approaches to get something for nothing from unsuspecting victims.

The first scam involves an email purportedly from the Internal Revenue Service. In the message, the subject of an Economic Stimulus Payment is addressed, with the recipient being informed that they are eligible to receive a stimulus payment form.

“Please submit the Stimulus Payment Online Form in order to process it.”

The email goes on to explain how a stimulus payment can be delayed for a variety of reasons, such as invalid records or applying after deadlines.

The recipient is then instructed to download an attachment to the message.

Then, a note at the end of the message informs the recipient that if filing or preparation fees were deducted from their 2007 Refund, or they received a refund anticipation loan, they would receive a check instead of a direct deposit stimulus payment.

The email was signed, “Regards, Internal Revenue Service.”

The email is a blatant attempt to get a person’s financial information, starting with the social security number, date of birth and address.

Secondly, financial information, such as bank account numbers, is sought in the email. If provided, the crook could affect a withdrawal of funds from a bank account and leave the account holder with empty bank accounts.

Officials of the Internal Revenue Service will never contact a taxpayer by email. Official contact is made through the U.S. Mail, and not through the Internet, no matter how “Official” the email might appear. IRS authorities also urge taxpayers to call 1-800-829-1040 or their nearest IRS office for information.

Above all, the IRS reminds persons to never released their personal information to a stranger through a phone call or email contact.

A second Internet scam has begun making its way around the Emmetsburg area in the past few days. Customers of Iowa Telecom have received emails purportedly from Iowa Telecom, indicating that it is carrying out maintenance on its database and that to complete this work, the customer must reply to the email immediately by entering their webmail user name and password, if they are the rightful owner of the webmail account.

“This process will help us to fight against spam mails. Failure to submit your password will render your email address in-active from our database.”

The message concluded by informing the subscriber that once they follow these instructions, they will receive a password reset message in the next seven working days for security purposes.

Once again, this email is a blatant attempt to get the email account name and password of a person, which would give the scammer the opportunity to hack into a computer and potentially intercept personal information, such as name, address, banking information and the like.

The email originates from an Internet account in New Zealand.

Officials at Iowa Telecom in Newton were aware of the bogus message, and a company-wide alert had been made in regard to the message. Again, Iowa Telecom officials will not contact subscribers via email to ask for account information. Such information is already on file with the company, as it was required to originally set up a subscriber’s Internet service and email accounts.

Authorities continue to remind the public that a person’s private information must be guarded at all times. No matter how authentic or official an email might appear, requests for any type of personal information are most likely an attempt to access that information for illegal activities. The best rule of thumb to follow when receiving such an email is to directly contact the apparent sender and ask the purpose of the message. As an example, if an email comes from a bank, addressed to Account holder, asking you to verify your password to help track a security issue, call the bank and ask what their email means. It’s almost a certainty that the bank never sent the message – it is an attempt by a criminal to gain control of your account so that it could be emptied of funds.

If you receive an email you feel is suspicious, contact your local law enforcement agency to inform them of the email, but above all, do not respond to the message.