Those cuddly folks at the Internal Revenue Service are sending email to a random lucky few, paying $80 for their time in filling out a survey to help the agency provide better service to the citizens of the United States.

Not.

An email making the rounds is the latest variation on a recurring phishing scheme.

It has nothing to do with the rock band, Phish. Fans of the band should check out the fan site Phish.net.

If you have an email account, you’ve already been the target of a phishing scheme — a fraudulent email that represents itself as coming from a trusted individual or organization that tries to weasel personal information from you. The thief frequently turns around and sells the information to somebody else. The ultimate result is identity theft, a drained bank account or a maxed-out credit line.

Variations include text phishing through mobile phones (IMing, instant messaging) and vishing through voice-over-IP phone calls.

The hot IRS phishing scheme filling an inbox near you directs the unwary to an online survey. Personal details collected include your name, telephone number and optionally an email address.

The name and phone number are valuable (and can be sold) by themselves. However, the current scheme makes an effort to upsell by collecting more information.

Once the survey is submitted, a page is displayed requesting credit card information claiming to allow the not-IRS to credit the account with $80. Putting the credit card info together with the name and telephone info creates a higher-value package than merely the name and telephone number.

The whipped cream and chocolate shavings on the scheme is a follow-up phone call to tease out more information.

Each additional piece of personal information coaxed out of the unfortunate victim increases the value of the package, and the pain that the victim is headed for.

The IRS does not pay people to fill out surveys.

Don’t get packaged and sold.

[cehwiedel also writes at cehwiedel.com]

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