Fraud & Phishing Scams increase during the holidays.

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With news of thieves gearing up for their peak season, the odds are pretty good that a hacker, thief or con-artist will eventually find you, your employees or clients.

Here is a rundown of some of some of the most reported scams this year.

Emails from Tax-Refunds.IRS.Gov

This is a phishing scam. Victims receive an e-mail message that appears to come from the IRS and requests detailed financial information from the recipient which may include SSNs, Federal ID numbers and bank account numbers.

Those that fall for this scam will find that their identities are quickly stolen and their bank accounts may be drained.

The IRS never requests detailed financial information via e-mail and will never ask for a SSN or identifying information -they already have it. Nor will they ask for bank account information or credit card numbers.

Anyone receiving this kind of message can call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to report it.

E-Mails Claiming to Be From the FDIC
Instead of a typical phishing e-mail that might ask you to click on a hyperlink to a spoofed Web site, this e-mail appears to deliver malicious software on to the recipient's computer.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has warned of e-mails appearing to be sent from the FDIC. They ask recipients to install unknown software on personal computers. Currently, the subject line of the e-mail includes the phrase "Urgent Notification - Security Reminder." The e-mail is fraudulent and was not sent by the FDIC. The fraudulent e-mail describes "a small client utility"--referred to as "ProBank"--that recipients are asked to install on their computers. To report any suspicious emails appearing to come from the FDIC call 1-877-ask-FDIC.

W-2 Fraud

Some con artists are contacting consumers and offering to issue fake W-2's which show that they have overpaid their taxes. Consumers are asked to supply their Social Security Numbers, which the con artist will use to generate the W-2 and a phony tax return. Consumers are told that when the refund arrives, it will be split with them.

Any consumer who falls for this is not only a victim, but may be viewed as criminal too. They are conspiring to defraud the United States Government, which can lead to a prison sentence.

Military Service Refunds

Victims are contacted and told that they are eligible for a $4,000 tax refund because of a relative's military service. They are asked for a credit card number to pay a fee between $25 and $50 to cover postage and handling.

The IRS does not charge any fees for postage and telephone agents are not authorized to collect credit card information from consumers.

Social Security Refunds

Consumers are contacted and told that they are entitled to a refund of some of the Social Security taxes that they have paid over their lifetime. Victims are asked to pay a paperwork processing fee along with a fee covering a percentage of the anticipated refund. Current law does not allow for Social Security tax refunds.

Pay the Taxes; Get a Prize

This is one of the oldest scams around. Consumers are contacted and told that they have won a great prize. It could be a boat, a car, a house or a trip. All they have to do to collect the prize is to pay the income tax on the prize. They are then asked to provide a credit card number or asked to mail in a check.

Any company that is awarding a legitimate prize will issue an IRS form 1099 to the consumer. It is the consumer's responsibility to pay the taxes directly to the IRS, not to the company awarding the prize.

Tax Collector at the Door

This scam is a little different because it involves people going door to door.

Consumers receive a knock at the door from someone claiming to be with the IRS. They are there to collect back taxes, or perhaps to inventory assets. Many consumers are so afraid of the IRS that they automatically open their doors and let these people into their homes.

If someone appears at your door and claims to be an IRS agent, don't let them in. Call the police. To notify the IRS of this type of scam, call the Treasury inspector general's hot line at 800-366-4484 to report the incident.

You've received a greeting card

Watch out for this one. Before opening any greeting card -check with the person the email claims it comes from BEFORE clicking to open it -or clicking on any link.

The FBI has warned consumers of the "greeting card" scam where the recipient receives an e-mail that says you have received a greeting card. The cards, which are also referred to as e-cards or postcards, are being sent via spam. Like many other Internet fraud schemes, the perpetrators entice the victim to click on an embedded link or open the greeting card, claiming the card is from a family member or friend. Although there have been variations in the spam message and attached malware, generally the spam directs the recipient to click the link provided in the email to view their e-card. Upon clicking the link, the recipient is unknowingly taken to a malicious web page.

Be careful not to click on embedded links in unsolicited emails. If you receive a notice of greeting card -email the the person the notice claims the card is from -and ask them if they sent one to you.

If you happen to click on a link that prompts a download -immediately cancel the download and run a virus scan.There are two victims involved with these greeting card scams - the user who fell for it and the legitimate greeting card company whose good name was used to in a crime.

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