Taxpayer Beware: IRS Email Scams on the Rise -- IronPort Threat Operations Center Uses SenderBase Network to Confirm Flood of Phony IRS Emails

Share Article

Following a recent increase in scam emails, the Internal Revenue Service reminded taxpayers to be on the lookout for bogus emails claiming to be from the tax agency. The IRS saw an increase in complaints about these emails, which are designed to trick the recipients into disclosing personal and financial information that could be used to steal the recipients’ identity and financial assets. This practice is known as phishing. IronPort Systems, the leader in gateway security, has confirmed an increase in these scams. IronPort’s Threat Operations Center identified the bogus email starting on July 28 and has since seen several variants of the email/phishing scam. In the last 12 months 110 different scams have been identified, with 23 of those coming in July and August.

Following a recent increase in scam emails, the Internal Revenue Service reminded taxpayers to be on the lookout for bogus emails claiming to be from the tax agency. The IRS saw an increase in complaints about these emails, which are designed to trick the recipients into disclosing personal and financial information that could be used to steal the recipients’ identity and financial assets. This practice is known as phishing.

IronPort Systems, the leader in gateway security, has confirmed an increase in these scams. IronPort’s Threat Operations Center identified the bogus email starting on July 28 and has since seen several variants of the email/phishing scam. In the last 12 months 110 different scams have been identified, with 23 of those coming in July and August.

The IRS scam/phishing attack is evidence that phishers are casting a wider net in hopes of luring victims with compelling content. Financial Services continue to be the most targeted industry sector, averaging 90% of all attacks.

IronPort reports phishing scams make up nearly 2% of all email. Total worldwide spam volume equals over 40 billion per day, up 40% year over year.

The bogus emails vary in form but typically claim to come from “taxrefunds @ irs.gov.” The email tells the recipient that he or she is eligible to receive a tax refund for a given amount. It then says that to access a form for the tax refund, the recipient must use a link contained in the email. The link then asks for the personal and financial information.

Identity theft is among the fastest and most devastating crimes in the United States. In 2006, more than nine million Americans were the victims of ID fraud. Individuals lose an average of $6,000 -- amounting to over $50 billion each year.

The IRS does not ask for personal identifying or financial information via unsolicited e-mail. Additionally, taxpayers do not have to complete a special form to obtain a refund. To check the status of this year’s refund, taxpayers can to the genuine IRS Web site at http://www.irs.gov and click on the interactive “Where’s My Refund” feature. Or they may contact the IRS toll-free at 1-800-829-1040 to determine whether the IRS is trying to contact them about a tax refund.

The IRS also has established an electronic mailbox for taxpayers to send information about suspicious e-mails they receive which claim to come from the IRS. Taxpayers should send the information to: phishing @ irs.gov.

As threat writers use constantly evolving techniques to penetrate companies' existing defenses, email threats have expanded beyond simple nuisance spam. IronPort Anti-Spam combines best-of-breed conventional techniques with IronPort's breakthrough context-sensitive detection technology, to eliminate the broadest range of known and emerging email threats. IronPort Reputation Filters stop over 80% of incoming spam at the connection level -- saving bandwidth, conserving system resources and yielding the highest levels of security for critical messaging systems.

IronPort’s 24/7 Threat Operations Center maintains the SenderBase network, the world's first and largest email traffic monitoring service. SenderBase collects data from more than 100,000 ISPs, universities and corporations around the world. SenderBase measures more than 120 different parameters for any email server on the Internet. This massive database receives more than five billion queries per day, with real-time data streaming in from every continent and network providers large and small. SenderBase has the most accurate view of the sending patterns of any given mail sender because of the size of the database, and conversely the database has remained the world's largest because of the accuracy of the data.

PRE-APPROVED QUOTES

“The email criminal network operates year round. Even though tax season ended months ago, spammers and cyber criminals continue to target your in-box with bogus emails from the IRS. IronPort customers can rest assured that we’re accurately protecting them against the broadest range of threats.” – Tom Gillis, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, IronPort Systems.

MULTIMEDIA LINKS

Sign up here to receive real-time virus outbreak alerts from IronPort Systems

IronPort Systems Gateway Security Products

Resource Guides for Email and Web Security

IRS Press Releases:

IRS Warns of e-Mail Scam about Tax Refunds, November 30, 2005

IRS Renews E-mail Alert Following New Scams, July 7, 2006

About IronPort Systems

IronPort Systems is the leading email security provider for organizations ranging from small businesses to the Global 2000. The company has developed a family of email security appliances, the IronPort C-Series™, that offer breakthrough performance, unprecedented ease of use and reduced total cost of ownership. IronPort is driving new standards and providing innovative products for those faced with the monumental task of managing, protecting, and growing mission-critical email systems. For more information on IronPort products and services, visit: http://www.ironport.com.

Contact IronPort Systems:    

Suzanne Matick at 831-479-1888 or SMATICK at IRONPORT dot COM

David Oro at 415-885-9898 or DAVID at OROGROUP dot COM

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Liz Landis
Visit website