No, it did not come from the IRS

Spammers celebrated the start of tax season by emailing a bogus "IRS" message midweek to "non-resident aliens" offering to "protect your exemption from tax on your account." Based on the available indications, UC Davis email users who received the message did the right thing--they ignored it.

The scam is the latest phishing fraud to surface in UC Davis email accounts. Unlike the frauds that disrupted campus email at the start of winter quarter, this one didn't pretend to come from UC Davis. It just showed up here, much as it has elsewhere. This scam is getting extra attention because it claims to involve taxes, and arrived during income-tax season.

The IT Express Computing Services Help Desk has received no phone calls and only a couple of emails about it, said Mike Waid, interim supervisor of the help desk, on Friday. People concerned about an IRS scam wouldn't necessarily contact a UC Davis service, but the lack of trouble could suggest that the repeated warnings about phishing, on campus and off, are taking root.

The version sent to IT Express contained two attached documents, not from the Internal Revenue Service, that asked recipients to fax back personal information, including a Social Security number and photocopy of their passports or driver's licenses. Anyone who complies would court identity theft.

When you get a phishing email message, just delete it. (You can always spot a fake "UC Davis" message if it asks you to confirm or verify your computing account by providing your password via telephone or email--the campus will never ask you to do that.) If you have questions, contact IT Express at (530) 754-HELP (4357).