Major newspapers published an article on July 12th, 2018 saying that people are receiving emails from email@example.com which is owned by fraudsters and cybersquatters and is meant to mislead people. The article says:
“The sender’s email address in the fraud appears as firstname.lastname@example.org and not email@example.com; The ‘e’ is missing from ‘efiling’ and ‘filing’ is spelt as ‘filling’.”
Rest assured this is not true!
Domains are the backbone of the internet. Without domains, navigating our way on the internet would be very challenging. Domains give every website address a “name” that is more memorable and easier to type than a series of numbers.
For example the website www.LdotR.red actually lives at address 22.214.171.124 but it is easier to remember LdotR.red than the series of numbers.
As the due date for filing income tax return in India is coming closer, filing returns and completing related formalities are going on at a frantic pace.
Fraudsters and cybersquatters are taking advantage of this occasion to drive users to their own websites to make some quick profits by duping innocent taxpayers. While this may sound tricky to the common man, it is not that difficult for a hacker, especially because most users read emails on their mobile phones.
Here is an example to illustrate the point;
The official website for filing income tax in India is www.IncomeTaxIndiaEFiling.gov.in
“Gov.in” is what is called a Top Level Domain (TLDs). There are over 1500 of them on the internet.
What separates “gov.in” from other TLDs is that it is controlled by the Government of India and can only be allocated to a government entity which is verified by Nixi – The National Internet Exchange of India.
Thus it is safe to assume and, rightly so, that if a domain ends in “gov.in” it is secure and safe to browse and enter your personal or financial details.
Why is receiving emails from firstname.lastname@example.org not possible?
Firstly, the fraudulent domain “incometaxindiafilling.gov.in” is not registered by anyone and hence it cannot be used to send emails.
Secondly, no one can purchase a domain name ending in “gov.in” as simply as “.in” or a “.com”. To purchase a “gov.in”, you have to be a government entity and the domain has to be requested via special procedure from NIXI.
Some of the other prominent websites that use the TLD “gov.in” are:
www.diksha.gov.in – National Digital Infrastructure for Our Teachers, Our Heroes www.cci.gov.in – Competition Commission of India www.india.gov.in – National Portal of India www.maharashtra.gov.in – Government of Maharashtra
This does not mean that there are no other domains out there trying to impersonate the official domain name. We ran a quick query and found fourteen (14) ‘.com’ domains that contain the word income, tax, and efiling. These are:
Some of these have websites and some have emails or both. But NONE of them are the official domain of the income tax department.
So if you receive an email, asking you to click on a link and enter your financial details. Check if the website domain ends in “gov.in”, if it does, you can be rest assured it is secure.
We hope that the Income TAX department provides a more succinct domain name such as “ITR.gov.in” or “FileITR.gov.in” to make it easier for people to spot fake domains, but till then be extra cautious and stay e-safe.