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Losing an identity

MBJ Editorial

Along with the good that technology, the World Wide Web and e-mail have brought comes the unwanted spam, a proliferation of pornography and hate speech, and perhaps most damaging of all, identity theft.

In one of the latest e-mail scams, unwary recipients of a fraudulent message that appears to be from the Internal Revenue Service have been duped into revealing personal data, which is used to steal their identities and create all manner of financial chaos for them.

In this latest scheme, according to an IRS press release: consumers receive an e-mail, claiming they are under investigation for tax fraud and are subject to prosecution. The e-mail informs recipients they can “help” the investigation by providing “real” information and directs them to an official-looking Web site, http://deptreas.org/irs/7634//, where detailed personal information must be provided to dispute the charge.

The bogus site has been shut down, and a federal investigation is ongoing, but as the IRS points out, it is likely that this scam will return in some form. A few points to remember:

• the IRS does not use e-mail to contact taxpayers about their accounts;

• official taxpayer contact usually includes a letter on IRS stationary in an IRS envelope;

• IRS letters contain a contact phone number.

We work and live in an interconnected world and that`s not going to change, but being connected has significant costs for businesses and individuals. However, knowledge and diligence are often enough to overcome the computer viruses, Trojan horses and scams.

And when in doubt, hit the delete key.

Additional information is online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft/ or www.irs.gov.

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