5 quick ways to spot an IRS refund phishing email scam

So while I’m packing to head out to Hashemite Kingdom – I find in my gmail inbox an email claiming to be from the IRS asking me to ‘Click here to request your refund‘ of some $343.50 I overpaid in 2005. Within about 5 seconds I knew I was looking at a phishing email scam – below the enumerated screenshot are 5 clues that gave it away:

screenshot of the phishing scam email I got from the IRS w/numerical citations

  1. It has been my experience that the Internal Revenue Service always uses the U.S. Mail – and unless I’m mistaken, such mistakes usually already have a check enclosed – and even those come in an envelope that looks scary.
  2. The “Taxpayer Advocate Service” is actually an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers resolve problems.” A visit to their website clarified that. It also made me wonder why the email didn’t have a U.S. Mail and telephone number which I could call.
  3. Note that “payments” is plural here, possibly implying “Quarterly Estimated Tax Payments” – I’ve never known the IRS to be so ambiguous when it comes to such things. And how is it they used an email address I’ve never used to file taxes? Hmmmm …
  4. Careful here: without clicking on the link, a view source reveals a link goes to a top level domain of .ch … which is SWITZERLAND?! Hmmm … talk about secure direct deposit.
  5. Hey there history fans, guess it pays to pay attention them civic classes all those years. What am I talking about? Article V of the Constitution pertains to modifying said document. The 19th Amendment extends suffrage to women; that is it gives people the right to vote regardless of gender!

All this is explained in much gorier detail on the IRS website – whom by the way at the time of this writing – has as a teaser link, located dead-center of the page, a link to an article entitle “IRS Warns Taxpayers of New E-mail Scams.”

As/per their instructions, I copied the original source and sent it along to the email address provided – then reported said email to Google as phishing.

Bottom line folks: there is no free lunch – so don’t go broke buying it. Or as in the words of our Saviour:

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves…” – Matthew 10:16 ESV.