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Rejected Federal Tax Transaction Email Scam

7/26/12 Update: Fraudulent Rejected Federal Tax Transaction emails are making the rounds once again (almost exactly one year since the last round). We recently had one come through our spam filters (which are very powerful), indicating to us that there are probably quite a few people that will have received this email. Please delete the email, don’t click on any links, and read on for details.

Phishing Alert: Rejected Federal Tax Transaction Email Scam

There are reports of a series of Rejected Federal Tax Transaction email scam emails going out that are disguised to appear as coming from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). Please disregard these emails and don’t click on any links contained within. They are phishing emails designed to steal your personal information.

Email Examples

Some of the fraudulent emails we’ve been receiving (they include an official looking IRS logo at the top):

Email Received on 7/26/12

  • From: Internal Revenue Service <alerts@irs.gov> (a spoofed (fake sender) email address).
  • SubjectRejected Federal Tax transaction
  • Message body:

Internal Revenue Service United States Department of the Treasury (IRS) (this is represented as an image, not text)

Your federal Tax transaction (ID: [randomly generated #]), recently from your checking account was canceled by the The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.

Rejected Tax transfer
Tax Transaction ID:[randomly generated #]
Reason for rejectionSee details in the report below
FederalTax Transaction Reporttax_report_[randomly generated #].doc (Microsoft Word Document) (the link does not go to a Word document, but rather a malicious website (please do not visit this site!) located at tiraccontolamusica [dot] it [backslash] reves [dot] html (we have un-linked the location to prevent accidental visits).
Tax Transaction ID:
Reason for rejection
FederalTax Transaction Report
[randomly generated #]
See details in the report below
tax_report_[randomly generated #].doc (Microsoft Word Document) (the link does not go to a Word document, but rather a malicious website (please do not visit this site!) located at tiraccontolamusica [dot] it [backslash] reves [dot] html (we have un-linked the location to prevent accidental visits).

Internal Revenue Service, Metro Plex 1, 8401 Corporate Drive, Suite 300, Landover, MD 20785

Email Received on 7/25/11

  • From: Sylvester_Torres@irs.gov (email from addresses vary)
  • SubjectRejected Federal Tax transaction
  • Variants of this email subject include:
    • Federal tax payment returned
    • Federal tax payment canceled
  • Message body:

Your federal Tax payment (ID: [randomly generated #]), recently sent from your bank account was returned by the The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.

Canceled Tax transfer
Tax Transaction ID:[randomly generated #]
Reason for rejectionSee details in the report below
FederalTax Transaction Reporttax_report_[randomly generated #].pdf.exe (self-extracting archive, Adobe PDF) (do not click on this link!!)
Tax Transaction ID:
Reason for rejection
FederalTax Transaction Report
[randomly generated #]
See details in the report below
tax_report_[randomly generated #].pdf.exe (self-extracting archive, Adobe PDF) (do not click on this link!!)

Internal Revenue Service, Metro Plex 1, 8401 Corporate Drive, Suite 300, Landover, MD 20785

This email is not from the IRS – the link to the PDF report leads to a site disguised as an IRS site that will attempt to extract sensitive personal information from you. As a rule of thumb, never click on a link within an email. Instead, visit the sites you trust directly by typing their URL (web address) in your browser’s address bar.

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12 responses to “Rejected Federal Tax Transaction Email Scam”

  1. This is the message I received with an attached IRS-ID993…htm document

    *********************************I DID CALLED THEM**********************************

    Dear Chief Account Officer,
    Hereby you are notified that your Income Tax Refund Appeal id#5200002 has been REJECTED. If you believe the IRS did not properly estimate your case due to a misunderstanding of the facts, be prepared to provide additional information. You can obtain the rejection details and re-submit your appeal by using the instructions in the attachment.

    Internal Revenue Service

    Message was sent by: Kira Nielsen
    (to an email that wasn't even mine, but got to me)

    *************NOT THE SCAMMERS, I CALLED THE IRS OFFICE******************

  2. Almost as long as there has been the internet and email, there have been scams going around trying to separate a sucker from their money.  Chances are, you have either seen one of these scams or even fallen victim to one by now if you have used the internet for any period of time.

    This latest federal tax transaction phishing scam is just the latest in a long line of scams like it that have come before and it certainly will not be the last.  No matter how good your email filters are or how trained an eye you think you have, you should really never trust any email that you were not expecting to receive. 

    My rule of thumb is that any important correspondence that I may be receiving will likely come with some alternative methods or getting back to the source or they will contact me another way as well.  I never click on emails or open attachments that I do not know.  It is just asking for some major trouble and once you have it, it is ten times harder to get rid of.

  3. If you've never dealt with the IRS one on one, you might find it easy to fall victim to this scam. This is especially true if you use an accountant and have never filed your own taxes. But, you must be reasonable and use common sense. Ask yourself, how the IRS would have gotten your email address or if it's the address you used when filing your taxes online. You should also do research online about  other similar scams.

    As someone who deals with the IRS each and every year, I can testify to the fact that the IRS does not use email for anything. You will never receive an email when there's an important issue at hand. Instead, you will receive a certified-letter that you must sign for. If you do not respond to letters, the IRS will contact you based on the phone number that is on your tax return.

    Don't let yourself fall victim to these scams. In most cases you can determine the validity of the email by simply stopping to think about it. The problem is when people become panicked that their tax return was wrong. It's easy to get worked up over an email like this, but you need to approach every email with caution.

  4. I am so infuriated that people continue to prey upon others through email, even in this day and age. First there were the PayPal phishing scams, the “Your distant relative in Zimbabwe has passed away” scams, and the innocuous emails with links to porn sites or viruses. Now the scam artists are picking on people who are desperate for the IRS to refund their tax return money, among other things. The real IRS is known to do that sort of thing, which preys on people’s fears, so this new scam probably even looked pretty legitimate to many people. Undoubtedly, many people did open it, to certain devistation, just as with the other scams and Trojan viruses and such that snuck their way into destroying people’s lives before the rest of us were fairly warned. For shame, I say. Keep yourself safe on the internet, and do not be alarmed falsely that the so-called IRS is canceling your refund. Heed the advice at the end of the article about not clicking on links if you are not entirely sure, and go a step further and call the IRS (or other trusted business) via phone if you are suspicious.

  5. Thank you to the author for the important phishing alert! I had not received a message like this in my inbox for a while thanks to good SPAM filters, so I might have gotten lazy and just trusted it if I had received a message like this. I am glad that this alert helped me put my guard up again.

    I did not find this particular IRS email in my SPAM folder, but I did find some SPAM mail that looked pretty genuine. One was from Capital One (not really), with the professional-looking logo just as described for the IRS scam. It said my account had been locked and that I would need to click the link and enter some personal details in order to unlock it. When I hovered over the link, however, it was not going to the address the link suggested (capitalone.com), but rather to a completely different website with a .eu suffix. A link that goes to a different address when you hover over (but do not click!) it is one of the major warning signs of a scam.

    The scammers will always try to get ahead, so stay ahead of them to stay safe.

  6. It amazes me at the number of people who fall for email scams. As someone who has filed her taxes online for over a decade, I've been stunned by the lack of technology used by the IRS. Not only will you not receive emails from the IRS, but even the computers used in IRS offices across the country are outdated. I discovered this while speaking with a tax representative about my account. The way he described the machine, I'm pretty sure he may have been using DOS.

    Regardless, you must use common sense when doing anything online, especially checking your email. Take time to truly think about the email and whether it seems logical. Would the IRS really contact you by email? Do they even have your email address? The IRS wants everything in writing. This means that you will always receive a letter in the mail. If the matter is extremely important, you will receive a certified letter that you must sign for.

    Don't fall victim to fraudulent emails. These emails are sent for the sole purpose of trying to hack your computer or steal your identity. If you have questions about an email, contact the company in question or research the matter online. Chances are there are other people who have received the exact email.

  7. I work for a pretty large company in a national call center and I get calls fairly frequently about people reporting some kind of correspondence from our company that never actually happened.  In these cases, I try first and foremost not to alarm the caller, but I also have to let them know that this type of communication is likely intended to harm them. 

    I think it is just a fact of life now that we have to be on the constant lookout for scams such as these.  The more advanced we get in weeding these sorts of phishing emails out the more advanced the emails and letters become trying to get around those filters. 

    I personally have been on the wrong end of some phishing scams also, but I fortunately have the awareness and experience to know when something just isn’t quite right.  If I had a general rule for people to follow, it would be to think about why you are being contacted and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.  If it really is important, they will probably just call.

  8. These fraud emails are nothing new. They are just more realistic than they ever were. I got one from Paypal the other day that had a great Paypal heading and logo and the whole deal. It really did look like it came from Paypal. Of course it did not, but the people that make these emails are really starting to get good at it. You have to wonder why they are not putting those skills to use in some other way that does not involve trying to steal from people. You also have to wonder how many time you can tell people not click anything in an email before they actually start to listen to you. You know people are still clicking because they are still sending.

    The fact is that thee kinds of things will never stop. I mean, we still get junk snail mail too. In fact, my mother still gets junk snail mail and she has been dead for over 30 years. That is an insane level of devotion. In fact, if couples had that level of devotion divorce court would not even exist.

    Seriously people, stop clicking on links in emails! Check your accounts on a regular basis and change your passwords on a regular basis, never using old ones over again. It is really pretty simple like that.

  9. As someone who works from home, files her taxes online, and uses the Internal Revenue Service's online payment service, I'm not easily duped by these emails. Why? Because the IRS is extremely behind the times. Everything is sent by mail. I don't even receive an email confirmation when setting up payments. However, many people aren't aware of how the IRS handles things.

    I can see how it would be easy for those that have an accountant handle everything to fall for this scam. They might not even question how the IRS got their email address. Many people simply freak out, thinking that something is wrong and that they are going to be penalized for the problem. Of course, there are also those that want to believe the emails that they have unclaimed tax refunds waiting for them. Some people are just very gullible.

    To help avoid these emails, it's important to have a good email provider and a virus protection program that also scans your email. This can go a long way in protecting your computer and identity. Another tip is to use common sense. If it sounds fishy, it more than likely is. Lastly, don't let your financial hardships or greediness talk you into opening an email promising free money.

  10. What really scares me is how good they are getting at making the emails look like they come from the source they claim to come from. I still won't click on a link in an email, but I am constantly shaking my head when I think about how many people get scammed by this just because the email looks so real. I know quite a few people who use their computers just for socializing and playing games. They don't realize how they can sometimes put themselves at risk. This is exactly the audience these emails target. People who don't know any better are freaked out because they see it's from the IRS and it has a .gov email address, which really looks authentic.

    We need to make sure to share thi information with people who don't live on the Internet, especially older ones who are already afraid of the government. I can just hear some of them I know right now, claiming how they just HAD to respond because it came from the IRS. It's our job to keep these kind of people informed so that they are not turned into victims over a lack of awareness.

  11. I got this same exact email – total scam. Luckily my spam filter headed it off before it even got to me (I went back and checked my junk mail box and found it chillin’ there).

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