Drake Software blog for tax pros, covering tax, IRS news, and more

Ransomware Scam Poses as FBI

A new phishing scheme has been unleashed on taxpayers, this time impersonating as the FBI and the IRS.

In reality, the scammers are sending emails that install ransomware on computers in order to hold its data hostage.

The scam starts with an email with the logos of both the FBI and the IRS. It tries to get the recipient to click a link to download a bogus FBI questionnaire. Instead, the link downloads ransomware – a certain type of malware – that prevents the user from accessing the data on their computer unless they money to the scammers.

Taxpayers who get such emails should remember the IRS will never contact them first by email. If a taxpayer does fall victim to this phishing attack, they should NOT pay a ransom. Paying only encourages the scammers, and frequently the scammers won’t provide the decryption key even after the ransom is paid.

Victims should immediately report any ransomware attempt or attack to the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.IC3.gov. Forward any IRS-themed scams to phishing@irs.gov.

Bob Williams

Forget genes; I’ve got words in my DNA. Communication has been part of who I am nearly all my life. From a long career in radio news to another one in newspapers – and a University of Georgia journalism degree sandwiched between the two – language has been my life. I’ve also been fortunate to have learned the tax business from the ground up here at Drake, starting with 1040.com online forms some years ago before moving on to work on the Web. In all things tax-ish, we aim to give you tools you can use.

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