IRS WARNING: WATCH OUT FOR FAKE CHARITIES

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Our community is well known for giving and caring. Many of you have already donated to disaster relief and many may be planning to.  It is  a sad reality that cyber-criminals eagerly exploit tragic circumstances in order to take advantage of and steal from new targets. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, a number of new scams have cropped up, including:

  • An IRS-themed phishing scam that instructs the receiver to download an FBI questionnaire (once the target clicks the link, their computer is infected with ransomware)
  • Facebook pages and tweets with links to fake charity websites
  • Scam emails seeking donations to #HurricaneHarvey Relief Funds (any donations made are simply kept by the cybercriminal who sent the email)

Keep the following in mind if and when you encounter a potential cyber scam:

  • The IRS will NEVER use email, text messages, or social media to contact you about personal tax issues. If you receive or fall victim to an IRS-themed scam, be sure to report it to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.
  • Victims of ransomware schemes should never pay a ransom, as this further encourages the criminals, and often they refuse to provide the decryption key even after a ransom is paid. Rather, victims should immediately report any ransomware attempt or attack to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.IC3.gov).
  • If you desire to make a donation in support of the victims of Hurricane Harvey, go directly to the website of the charity of your choice in order to do so.
  • Always think before you click on any links in emails or texts you receive!