As spring approaches, spammers' thoughts turn to taxes

Tax season and the faltering economy are spurring new spam

If you survived campaign spam and Valentine's Day spam, don’t let your guard down. Right on schedule, tax spam is here.

In this report

Spam's supply and demand

Barracuda Networks has reported a sharp rise in the number of phony Internal Revenue Service e-mail messages. Spammers are taking advantage of the upcoming tax-filing season and the dismal economy. One popular trick is to urge the recipient to follow a link to a bogus IRS Web site to fill out a stimulus payment application form. Who can resist free money? Of course, in filling out the form, you will be asked for information such as Social Security number, bank account number, and so on.

"These particular spam scams are certainly variations of schemes we have seen in past years during tax season, but what is relatively new this year is how adept the spammers are at chasing the latest news — be it good or bad news — related to the economy,” said Stephen Pao, vice president of product management at Barracuda Networks. “Spammers are very aware that people are in a vulnerable position right now, and [they] are looking for ways to cash in on that vulnerability.”

The IRS has issued the standard warnings, which apply any time of year. “The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail,” the IRS’ Web site states. “The IRS does not request detailed personal information through e-mail. The IRS does not send e-mail requesting your PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.”

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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