IRS WARNS OF EMAIL
AND TELEPHONE SCAMS USING THE IRS NAME
The Internal Revenue Service has warned taxpayers to beware of several
current e-mail and telephone scams that use the IRS name as a lure. The IRS
expects such scams to continue through the end of tax return filing season
The IRS cautioned taxpayers to be on the lookout for scams involving
upcoming advance payment checks. Since the government has enacted an
economic stimulus package in which the IRS will provide advance payments,
known informally as rebates to many Americans, a scam which uses the
proposed rebates as bait has already cropped up.
The goal of the scams is to trick people into revealing personal and
financial information, such as Social Security, bank account or credit card
numbers, which the scammers can use to commit identity theft.
Typically, identity thieves use a victimís personal and financial data to
empty the victimís financial accounts, run up charges on the victimís
existing credit cards, apply for new loans, credit cards, services or
benefits in the victimís name, file fraudulent tax returns or even commit
crimes. Most of these fraudulent activities can be committed electronically
from a remote location, including overseas. Committing these activities in
cyberspace allows scamsters to act quickly and cover their tracks before the
victim becomes aware of the theft.
People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years ó and
their hard-earned money ó cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their
reputations and credit records. In the meantime, victims may lose job
opportunities, may be refused loans, education, housing or cars, or even get
arrested for crimes they didn't commit.
The IRS has seen several variations of a refund-related bogus e-mail
which falsely claims to come from the IRS, tells the recipient that he or
she is eligible for a tax refund for a specific amount, and instructs the
recipient to click on a link in the e-mail to access a refund claim form.
The form asks the recipient to enter personal information that the scamsters
can then use to access the e-mail recipientís bank or credit card account.
In a new wrinkle, the current version of the refund scam includes two
paragraphs that appear to be directed toward tax-exempt organizations that
distribute funds to other organizations or individuals. The e-mail contains
the name and supposed signature of the Director of the IRSís Exempt
Organizations business division.
This e-mail is a phony. The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mail about
tax account matters to individual, business, tax-exempt or other taxpayers.
Filing a tax return is the only way to apply for a tax refund; there is
no separate application form. Taxpayers who wish to find out if they are due
a refund from their last annual tax return filing may use the ďWhereís
My Refund?Ē interactive application on this Web site, IRS.gov. The only
official IRS Web site is located here at