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Phishing Campaign Targets Tax Rebate Checks

The phishing messages claim that the fastest way to receive one's economic stimulus tax rebate is through direct deposit and include a Web link to an online submission form.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) on Thursday issued a warning about a phishing campaign designed to steal personal information from consumers using the promise of a tax rebate check as bait.

IC3 is jointly run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National White Collar Crime Center, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

The phishing messages claim that the fastest way to receive one's economic stimulus tax rebate is through direct deposit. They include a Web link to an online submission form designed to steal submitted information from those fooled into believing that providing personal data will hasten the arrival of their tax rebate.

The IC3 includes a sample phishing message that purports to be from the Internal Revenue Service. It warns recipients that failure to submit information by May 10 may delay the promised funds.

In fact, the IRS is sending economic stimulus payments, ranging from $300 to $1,200, out to about 130 million U.S. households this month. But it's not sending anyone e-mail offering to hasten delivery through direct deposit of the funds.

"Consumers are advised that the IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications via e-mail," IC3 warns. "In addition, the IRS does not request detailed personal information via e-mail or ask taxpayers for the PIN numbers, passwords, or similar secret access information for their credit card, bank, or other financial accounts."

Furthermore, IC3 advises against opening e-mail from unknown senders or clicking on links in such messages.

According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, 29,284 unique phishing reports were submitted to the organization in January, an increase of more than 3,600 from the previous month.

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