This week the IRS issued a press release informing people to be on the lookout for a new email-phishing scam that appears as an email from the IRS and the FBI. If you click on the link in the email you can have ransomware take hostage your computer.
The email has emblems of both the IRS and the FBI and it encourages the recipient to click a link to download a FBI questionnaire. If you click the link it downloads malware called ransomware, which prevents you from accessing data stored on your device unless you pay money to the scammers.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said, “This is a new twist on an old scheme […] people should stay vigilant against email scams that try to impersonate the IRS and other agencies that try to lure you into clicking a link or opening an attachment. People with a tax issue won’t get their first contact from the IRS with a threatening email or phone call.”
This a a good time to remind everyone that the IRS does not use email, text messages or social media to discuss tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds. we have discussed this in our article on IRS’s top scams for 2017. The IRS is very old school in that they use mail, fax, and phone. If you get any email that appears from the IRS or FBI, delete it without interacting with the email.
What happens if your data is taken hostage? The IRS recommends victims should not pay a ransom because paying it further encourages the criminals, and also the scammers frequently won’t provide the decryption key even after a ransom is paid. It’s more complicated if you are the one with your data seized. Of course if you are dumb enough to not have a backup of your computer data, you may deserve what you get.
The IRS says victims should immediately report any ransomware attempt or attack to [email protected]