RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In the last few weeks, several viewers have asked us to look into some emails and text messages they received seemingly from the IRS and local banks. Without much effort, we figured out the messages were phishing schemes.
They're official looking messages. This one from "Internal Revenue Service USA." After reviewing the recipient's fiscal activity, that person was owed $92, it reads: "Payable after he clicks on a link in the email," which is signed by the Internal Revenue Service, a Bureau of the Department of Treasury.
"If you did not invite this contact, if you didn't solicit it, if you didn't make the call, don't open it. Don't click on it," said Penny Jez, Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs.
This email, and others we've received, is a phishing scam. Someone casting a wide net hoping that you will be snagged and follow their directions.
"What they trying to do is fool you into taking the bait. And the bait is 'I represent your company, your bank, your this, your that and we are doing an investigation'," said Jez.
If you ever open your email to what looks like a government message, local, state or federal; delete it. Period.
"Government does not do email to you at all. They will use a letter. They will send you a letter saying we're going to send a letter," Jez said.
Another viewer sent us the text message she got on her cell phone, reading "Fort Lee FCU Alert: Your card has been deactivated. Please contact us to reactivate your card." No bank would send you a text message about your account. It's not secure and it's not professional. It is an attempt to get at your personal information, and turn your world upside down.
"You need to treat your password, your pin number, your social security number, and any financial data as the keys to your house. You would not give your keys to a total stranger," she said.
If you ever get one of the supposed government or bank messages and you're not sure about it, you can also call the bank or agency to see if they've been trying to contact you. Don't call the number in the email; call the number you already have for the institution.