David Knoble, CPA, PLLC

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Watch for Scam Emails that look like the IRS

Always be care­ful open­ing email from sources you do not know.  Now you have to be care­ful watch­ing for email from the IRS.  With very few excep­tions, the IRS does not send email to indi­vid­u­als and busi­nesses.  Here is how to tell if your email is fraud­u­lent or a scam.

If some­one wants to imper­son­ate a bank or the IRS, they have to direct you to their web­site.  Fur­ther­more, they have to send you directly there.  To accom­plish this scam, they will give you a hyper­link in your email and tell you to click on it.

To tell if the link is fraud­u­lent, hold your mouse over the link, but do not click on it.  Alter­na­tively, if your email comes in text mode, you can see the link.  In either case, look at the web­site for the link.  The very end of the link will have either a ‘.com’, ‘.net’ or some other end­ing.  The word just prior to that last ‘dot’ is the domain for the link.  If that domain is not ‘IRS’ and the end­ing is not ‘.gov’ then the link will not take you to the IRS, but some fraud­u­lent web site.  See an exam­ple below of a fraud­u­lent web address:

http://​www​.irs​.gov​.fraud​u​lentsite​.com

This web site looks like it might be the IRS, but the end of the link indi­cates it will go to the web­site ‘fraud​u​lentsite​.com’  which is clearly not the IRS.  See an exam­ple of the cor­rect web­site below:

http://​www​.irs​.gov

Notice how that web­site ends in ‘irs​.gov’. That link rep­re­sents the real IRS.  Also notice that some links have a sub­di­rec­tory asso­ci­ated with the link.  See the exam­ple below of a fraud­u­lent link with a directory:

http://​www​.irs​.gov​.fraud​u​lentsite​.com/​r​e​f​u​nds

The link above still takes you to the webiste ‘fraud​u​lentsite​.com’

For our last exam­ple, see a valid link to an IRS web­site with a sub­di­rec­tory (note this is not a real link, but an example).

http://​www​.irs​.gov/​i​n​s​t​r​u​c​t​i​ons

So, at the end of the day, if you don’t really know who the email is from, even if it looks like it could be real, do not respond!

© 2010, david.knoble
by David Kno­ble, CPA, PLLC
Serv­ing Non-Profits, Busi­nesses & Indi­vid­u­als
Rock Hill, SC

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