Volume 5 Number 7
February 15, 2008

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 and beyond.

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.

Refund e-Mail

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 www.irs.gov.