Important Documents IRS Email SPAM

Also Known As: TrickBot trojan
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

Important Documents IRS virus removal guide

What is Important Documents IRS?

"Important Documents IRS" is another spam email campaign used to distribute the TrickBot trojan. It shares many similarities with Payslip, You Have A Santander Secure Email, and a number of other campaigns. "Important Documents IRS" emails contain a long message comprising false information regarding a supposed 'transaction' and encouraging users to immediately open an attached MS Office (Word) document. Once opened, however, this file immediately downloads and installs the TrickBot trojan.

Important Documents IRS malware

The message essentially states that the IRS Audit Office has finished investigating a case and determined that "return transfer in automatic mode" is impossible. Therefore, users are encouraged to complete and sign the attached documents. This is a scam - cyber criminals send these false messages to trick users into opening malicious attachments. Research shows that cyber criminals continually register email addresses and web domains including the names of government departments and legitimate companies. These emails and URLs are used within spam campaigns (it is much easier to trick unsuspecting user into following instructions received from familiar email addresses). As mentioned, "Important Documents IRS" is used to promote TrickBot, a high risk trojan that records sensitive information. TrickBot hijacks web browsers and records logins/passwords. Therefore, cyber criminals might gain access to victims' private accounts (bank, PayPal, social networks, etc.), which can lead to significant financial loss and identity theft. TrickBot is also very good at removing its tracks and it is virtually impossible to manually detect this malware. Fortunately, many reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suites are capable of detecting and removing this trojan. If you have already opened "Important Documents IRS" attachments, immediately perform a full system scan and eliminate all threats.

Threat Summary:
NameTrickBot trojan
Threat TypeTrojan, Password stealing virus, Banking malware, Spyware
SymptomsTrojans are designed to stealthily infiltrate victim's computer and remain silent thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.
Distribution methodsInfected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software cracks.
DamageStolen banking information, passwords, identity theft, victim's computer added to a botnet.
Malware Removal (Windows)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
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There are a number of trojan-type viruses similar to TrickBot. The list of examples includes (but it is not limited to) Pony, Adwind, and FormBook. Most are also distributed using spam emails. Furthermore, their behavior is also very similar - as with TrickBot, these viruses also record sensitive information. Some trojans are also known to spread other viruses (in most cases, ransomware), thus posing a direct threat to user's privacy and Internet browsing safety.

How did Important Documents IRS infect my computer?

"Important Documents IRS" is used to proliferate malicious MS Word attachments. After opening this file, users are asked to enable macro commands, otherwise the content will not be displayed. Once macros are enabled, however, the attachment immediately executes commands that stealthily download and install the TrickBot trojan. Note, however, that this will only work if the attachment is opened using the MS Word program. If the file is opened using other apps capable of reading this format, the malware will not be downloaded. Cyber criminals only target users who run the Windows Operating System. Users of other platforms (MacOS, Linux, etc.) are safe.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Lack of knowledge and careless behavior are the main reasons for computer infections. The key to safety is caution. Therefore, pay close attention when browsing the Internet. Carefully analyze each received email attachment. If the file seems irrelevant or has been received from a suspicious/unrecognizable email address, never open it. These emails should be deleted immediately without reading. Be aware that some trojans are distributed using fake update tools and the "bundling" method (stealth installation of third party applications together with regular software/apps). Therefore, keep installed applications up-to-date. This should be achieved only through implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer. "Bundled" apps are typically hidden within "Custom/Advanced" settings (or other sections) of the download/installation processes. Therefore, carefully analyze each step of these procedures and opt-out of all additionally-included programs. You are also advised to avoid using third party downloaders/installers, since developers monetize them by promoting PUPs. Download apps from official sources only, using direct download links. Having a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running is also paramount. In addition, more recent versions (2010 and above) of MS Office open newly-downloaded documents in "Protected View" mode. In doing so, MS Office prevents malware download/installation. Using older versions is risky and not recommended. If you have already opened a "Important Documents IRS" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Important Documents IRS" email letter:

Subject: Important Documents
Transaction error correction,
IRS Audit Office completed investigation on case #827112IRS and determined that the return of the erroneously transfer in automatic mode is impossible In this regard, we require you to check, complete and sign attached documents.
Please send completed and signed documents to +1 877 364-6896.
Failure to Comply Law and Regulations IRS is suppressed in accordance with publication: How Criminal Investigations Are Initiated.
Should you need additional information, please call IRS at +1 877 364-6895.
Thank you for your assistance in this matter.
Confidentiality Notice: The information contained in this message may be confidential and legally privileged. It is intended only for use of the individual named. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that the disclosure, copying, distribution, or taking of any action in regards to the contents of this fax – except its direct delivery to the intended recipient – is strictly prohibited. If you have received this fax in error, please notify the sender immediately and destroy this cover sheet along with its contents, and delete from your system, if applicable.

Malicious attachment distributed via "Important Documents IRS" spam campaign:

Malicious attachment distributed through Important Documents IRS spam campaign

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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How to remove malware manually?

Manual malware removal is a complicated task - usually it is best to allow antivirus or anti-malware programs to do this automatically. To remove this malware we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows. If you wish to remove malware manually, the first step is to identify the name of the malware that you are trying to remove. Here is an example of a suspicious program running on a user's computer:

malicious process running on user's computer sample

If you checked the list of programs running on your computer, for example using task manager, and identified a program that looks suspicious, you should continue with these steps:

manual malware removal step 1 Download a program called Autoruns. This program shows auto-start applications, Registry, and file system locations:

screenshot of autoruns application

manual malware removal step 2Restart your computer into Safe Mode:

Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, and then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.

Safe Mode with Networking

Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking - Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click Advanced startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window, select Advanced startup. Click the "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into the "Advanced Startup options menu". Click the "Troubleshoot" button, and then click the "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen, click "Startup settings". Click the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.

Windows 8 Safe Mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 10 users: Click the Windows logo and select the Power icon. In the opened menu click "Restart" while holding "Shift" button on your keyboard. In the "choose an option" window click on the "Troubleshoot", next select "Advanced options". In the advanced options menu select "Startup Settings" and click on the "Restart" button. In the following window you should click the "F5" button on your keyboard. This will restart your operating system in safe mode with networking.

windows 10 safe mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":


manual malware removal step 3Extract the downloaded archive and run the Autoruns.exe file.

extract autoruns.zip and run autoruns.exe

manual malware removal step 4In the Autoruns application, click "Options" at the top and uncheck the "Hide Empty Locations" and "Hide Windows Entries" options. After this procedure, click the "Refresh" icon.

Click 'Options' at the top and uncheck 'Hide Empty Locations' and 'Hide Windows Entries' options

manual malware removal step 5Check the list provided by the Autoruns application and locate the malware file that you want to eliminate.

You should write down its full path and name. Note that some malware hides process names under legitimate Windows process names. At this stage, it is very important to avoid removing system files. After you locate the suspicious program you wish to remove, right click your mouse over its name and choose "Delete".

locate the malware file you want to remove

After removing the malware through Autoruns application (this ensures that the malware will not run automatically on the next system startup), you should search for the malware name on your computer. Be sure to enable hidden files and folders before proceeding. If you find the filename associated with the malware, remove it.

searching for malware file on your computer

Reboot your computer in normal mode. Following these steps should remove any malware from your computer. Note that manual threat removal requires advanced computer skills. If you do not have these skills, leave malware removal to antivirus and anti-malware programs. These steps might not work with advanced malware infections. As always it is best to prevent infection than try to remove malware later. To keep your computer safe, install the latest operating system updates and use antivirus software.

To be sure your computer is free of malware infections we recommend scanning it with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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