The Internal Revenue Service has issued a consumer alert about an
Internet scam in which consumers receive an e-mail informing them of a tax
The e-mail, which claims to be from the IRS, directs the consumer to a
link that requests personal information, such as Social Security numbers and
credit card information.
This scheme is an attempt to trick the e-mail recipients into
disclosing their personal and financial data. The practice is called “phishing” for information.
The information fraudulently obtained is then used to steal the
taxpayer’s identity and financial assets. Generally, identity thieves use
someone’s personal data to steal his or her financial accounts, run up charges
on the victim’s existing credit cards, apply for new loans, credit cards,
services or benefits in the victim’s name and even file fraudulent tax returns.
According to an IRS press release, the bogus e-mail, which claims to
come from “tax firstname.lastname@example.org,” tells the recipient that he or she is eligible
to receive a tax refund for a given amount. It then says that, to access a form
for the tax refund, the recipient must use a link contained in the e-mail. The
link then asks for the personal and financial information.
The IRS does not ask for personal identifying or financial information
via unsolicited e-mail, according to the agency’s press release. Additionally,
taxpayers do not have to complete a special form to obtain a refund.
If you receive an unsolicited e-mail purporting to be from the IRS,
take the following steps:
- Do not open
any attachments to the e-mail, in case they contain malicious code that
will infect your computer.
- Contact the
IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine whether the IRS is trying to contact
you about a tax refund.
The IRS has seen numerous attempts over the years to defraud the public
and the federal government through a variety of schemes, including abusive tax
avoidance transactions, identity theft, claims for slavery reparations,
frivolous arguments and more. More information on these schemes may be found on
the criminal enforcement page at www.irs.gov.