The Internal Revenue Service has issued several recent consumer warnings on the fraudulent use of the IRS name or logo by scamsters trying to gain access to consumers’ financial information in order to steal their identity and assets. When identity theft takes place over the Internet, it is called phishing.
Phishing (as in “fishing for information” and “hooking” victims) is a scam where Internet fraudsters send e-mail messages to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing personal and financial information that can be used to steal the victims’ identity. Current scams include phony e-mails which claim to come from the IRS and which lure the victims into the scam by telling them that they are due a tax refund.
Phishing and Other Schemes Using the IRS Name
The IRS periodically alerts taxpayers to, and maintains a list of, phishing schemes using the IRS name, logo or Web site clone. If you’ve received an e-mail, phone call or fax claiming to come from the IRS that seemed a little suspicious, you just may find it on the IRS Dirty Dozen Scam List.
You Can Help Shut Down Phishing Schemes
The agency advises recipients of e-mails claiming to be from the IRS that they should not:
• Click on any links in a suspicious e-mail or phishing Web site or enter confidential information.
The good news is that you can help shut down these schemes and prevent others from being victimized. If you receive a suspicious e-mail that claims to come from the IRS, you can relay that e-mail to a new IRS mailbox, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The IRS can use the information, URLs and links in the suspicious e-mails you send to trace the hosting Web site and alert authorities to help shut down the fraudulent sites. Unfortunately, due to the expected volume, the IRS will not be able to acknowledge receipt or respond to you. For more information visit the IRS Identity Theft Page
When in doubt – DON’T offer any type of personal information.