March 27, 2006
The IRS is issuing a consumer alert about an e-mail scam that's praying on taxpayers who are desperately awaiting their tax return. The IRS has found a dozen websites hosting scams in 20 different countries, but the IRS says this scam is the worst of them all.
You’re not the only one who's trying to cash in your tax return. Identity thieves are posing as the IRS and sending e-mail messages to unsuspecting victims. They're "phishing" for your information.
"A lot of innocent people have entered their personal identity information," said Gloria Wajciechowski, an IRS Spokesperson.
The email tells taxpayers they're due a refund and directs them to a fake IRS website, where they ask for social security numbers, account numbers and passwords. Even though the email contains an IRS logo, it's just a scam, and the IRS urges taxpayers not to open it.
"It's not from the IRS. The IRS will never correspond with you via email to solicit account information or to give you account information such as the amount of your refund," said Wajciechowski.
Even if you do your taxes online, the only email you will get about your refund is from the company who filed your taxes. IRS officials have known about this scam since November, but they are cracking down now that it's tax time.
"We're working with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to shut these sites down," explained Wajciechowski. She is hoping they will close them for good before another innocent taxpayer becomes a victim.
If you get an email like this, the IRS is asking you to go to their website at www.irs.gov and type in phishing. There will be instructions on how to forward the email to the IRS to investigate. If you want to know the status of your tax return, you can check that out on their website as well.