Computer Crime Research Center


Beware growing phishing scams

Date: March 04, 2006

A favorite ploy of identity thieves is "phishing." Criminals use the Internet, even posing as representatives of the IRS, to send authentic-looking messages to fool taxpayers into divulging personal information that can be used to steal from their financial accounts.

"Don't let yourself get involved in a tax scam or be victimized by one," said IRS spokesperson Michael Devine. "Be very careful who you trust for tax advice and who you trust with your personal information."

"The 'phishing' ploy and other schemes surface each year as tax filing season is in full swing," said Devine. "Con artists shamelessly take advantage of people. Everyone should be on-guard for these scams."

Identity Theft: It pays to be choosy when it comes to disclosing personal information. Identity thieves have used stolen personal data to access financial accounts, run up charges on credit cards and apply for new loans. The IRS is aware of several identity theft scams involving taxes or scammers posing as the IRS itself. The IRS does not use e-mail to contact taxpayers about issues related to their accounts or refunds. If you have any doubt whether a contact from the IRS is authentic call 1-800-829-1040 to confirm it.

Bogus Refunds: The caller says you have a refund waiting with the IRS, and all you need to do is provide a bank account or other personal information in order to have the refund deposited. Don't buy into this scam. The IRS does not call taxpayers informing them that bank account or other personal information is needed to receive a refund. The scammer is attempting to steal your identity or financial information. The IRS would notify a taxpayer by mailed correspondence if they have an outstanding refund forthcoming. Subsequently, a refund check would be issued and mailed to the taxpayer. To follow-up on a refund call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or check the "Where's My Refund?" feature at .

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