Fake emails, calls claim to be from courts, IRS

PHOENIX - It's not enough for hackers to send you friendly emails offering millions at the click of a button anymore.

Now they've taken to scaring people into submission and they're using the IRS and the court system to do it.

An email, telling you about a court date that you didn't even know about, is enough to get anyone's attention.

Jenn Minor says it definitely got hers.

"I am thinking 'what did I do?' I don't do illegal software. So I was starting to panic a little bit!" Minor said.

She got two notices, both accused her of illegally downloading material and urged to her to click on a link.

"They all had in the bottom in a little box that said 'zip file', please open this, read over what the hearing is about," said Minor.

It's called "scareware."

Hackers use it to frighten people into clicking on links that infect your computer with malicious software. The particular virus being sent out now is believed to search the computer for your social security number.

Fortunately Jenn didn't fall for it. But people across the country are.

It's even prompted a warning from the U.S. Courts system telling people they "will not be served with court documents electronically," unless they have an active case and have requested it.

There's a similar warning from the IRS about tax refund scams.

Calls and emails claiming to be from the IRS may actually from scammers trying to get your refund.

If you get a call, do not give out any information. Instead, ask for a call back number, and an employee badge number then contact the IRS yourself.

And if you get an email, don't open it.  Forward it the official IRS phishing email address .

Let me know about your consumer issues by emailing me at joe@abc15.com or by "Liking" my Let Joe Know Facebook Page and telling me about it there.

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