In the latest issue of The Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine (May/June 2012), a very insightful article was included on the prevalence of internet phishing. Internet phishing is another term for internet scams, which result in criminals gaining personal and financial information about users in order to take their money and/or their identity. Phishing e-mails, such as fake bank e-mails or other solicitations, may also lead to the introduction of viruses into your computer system. In the modern age, when internet phishing is becoming a more common occurrence, it is difficult to tell whether e-mails are legitimate or potentially dangerous. According to the article, there are a few ways to tell whether a communication is real or fake.
First of all, the IRS in particular will never initiate contact via e-mail. Therefore, e-mails about a tax refund or impending investigation are not real. Neither are e-mails saying that your tax payment was rejected. Never click on any links within these fake e-mails, as they may introduce viruses. Additionally, never give out your social security number or financial information via these links. You can also file a complaint about these types of e-mails (specifically, fake stock purchase e-mails) through the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). You can do this by e-mailing them at email@example.com with the subject line "Stock".
Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer serving western and central Pennsylvania. For more information on him and his firm, please click here.