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Officials: Beware Stimulus Phishing Scam

February 7, 2009

Scammers are sending out phony emails with offers of economic stimulus payments in an attempt to lure unsuspecting victims into revealing personal information, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said on Friday.

“US-CERT is aware of public reports indicating that phishing scams are circulating via fraudulent U.S. Internal Revenue Service emails offering users stimulus package payments,” US-CERT said.

“These emails include text that attempts to convince users to follow a link to a website or to complete an attached document. The website and document request the user to provide personal information,” the US-CERT wrote in a statement on its website.

US-CERT was established in 2003 to protect the nation’s Internet infrastructure against cyberattack.   The team is a partnership between the public and private sectors and the Department of Homeland Security.

Phishing is a common Internet scheme in which scammers attempt to steal IDs, passwords and other sensitive personal information in an attempt to steal money from their victims.

However, the scammers behind the current fraud are a bit premature in their actions.  Although the U.S. House of Representatives passed a large economic stimulus bill last week, the Senate has yet to do so.

US-CERT urged anyone receiving the fraudulent emails to send the message and the website URL to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

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