The e-mails appear to come from the IRS. One says you're entitled to a refund and directs you to a very realistic looking IRS Web site, but it's not. Another says you can check on your refund and offers to take you to another fake Web site. Both ask for your name, Social Security number, credit card number and ATM PIN number.
I'm producing a story set to air next Wed., April 5 about these e-mails -- the latest scam in what's called Internet "phishing." It's a "large and growing problem" according to a consumer watchdog group, and it's how bad guys get your personal information in order to take money from your account or commit identity theft. According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, the number of unique e-mail phishing attacks was just 176 in January 2004. By October 2005, it was 4,367! According to a 2005 consumer survey, approximately 4.5 million people provided personal information as requested.
Did you receive one of the e-mails and unknowingly respond? They do look real, even to the experts. One Internet insider tells me they are a "work of art." If you have been a victim of this phishing attack, we'd like to hear from you. Just click the "Discuss" button below and include your e-mail so we can follow-up. And thanks for contributing to our story.
Above: An example of one of the fraudulent e-mails circulating around the Internet.