Unscrupulous crooks have always managed to stay one step ahead of the most rigorous safeguards. After impersonating banks and important financial institutions, fraudsters are now targeting gullible taxpayers pretending to be from the income tax (I-T) department, no less.
In the latest fraud, that had very briefly surfaced in an entirely different format last year, emails are sent informing the taxpayer that a tax refund is due and requesting personal details so that the ‘money can be deposited’ in his or her account. The email claiming to be from the income tax department is sent from the address firstname.lastname@example.org. The subject in the email is a very plausible ‘tax refund notification’.
Needless to say, once personal details like Permanent Account Number (PAN), bank account and credit card numbers are given, the taxpayer is likely to find himself in trouble if the information is misused.
The I-T department has very clearly stated that it does not ask for PIN numbers, passwords or any access information for credit cards, bank accounts or other financial details via email. I-T officials said the department does not send any communication regarding refunds via email.
Chief commissioner of income tax, Mumbai, PP Srivastava, has said people should not respond to such emails or give out personal details. “Refund related communication is only sent by post,” said an officer requesting anonymity.
Naresh Dharia, south Mumbai-based chartered accountant said the I-T department does not send such emails regarding intimation about refunds. “If people get such emails, they should be cautious as giving out personal details could give the hacker an opportunity to get access to their I-T returns, credit card and bank account information,” Dharia said.
The fraud email addresses the receiver as “dear valued taxpayer”, which the I-T department never does, and says, “We have reviewed your tax fiscal payment for previous years and have resolved that you are qualified for a refund of the sum of 36,120.25 INR which is your accumulated tax excess. Please submit a tax refund request and allow us to process it within 7 (seven) working days”.
It then asks the receiver to click on a link to submit the request. This link then goes step by step asking for details like PAN, credit card PIN, bank account details, the officer said.