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Scam of the month Scams

Beware scammers pretending to be from the IRS.

Scam of the month

Don't fall for IRS-related scams
 

If you receive an unsolicited call or e-mail from the Internal Revenue Service, watch out. You're not talking to Uncle Sam.

The IRS recently issued a warning about identity theft schemes using the agency's name.

Since 2006, the Internet Crime Complaint Center has received more than 200 complaints about phishing schemes using the bureau as bait. This year scammers are using new twists on old tricks, including personalized e-mail salutations, live phone calls and the promise of tax rebates, to dupe consumers into divulging sensitive information.

Story continues below ...

Tax refund e-mail scam
 
Source: MessageLabs
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Do's: Don'ts:
Do use a firewall and update your Internet security software. Don't click on links or open attachments from unsolicited e-mails from the IRS.
Do report suspicious phone calls or e-mails from the IRS to phishing@irs.gov. Don't give out any personal information to anyone calling on behalf of the IRS.
Do visit the IRS's official Web site directly at www.irs.gov if you have a question. Don't divulge any personal information in an online form to claim a tax refund.

Take care not to fall for the following cons:

1. Rebate phone calls
How it works: The IRS reports that a new scam similar to the refund e-mails that have circulated for years involves phone calls from callers posing as IRS employees. These callers tell potential victims they are eligible to receive a rebate for filing their taxes early. Phony IRS representatives ask for the consumers' bank account information, supposedly for direct deposit. Upon refusal, they will deny the rebate.

IRS spokeswoman Michelle Lamishaw says that scammers like to use current events for their purposes. In this case, fraudsters are using the rebate legislation recently passed by Congress as a lure.

Hang up on anyone calling about tax rebates. Checks will go out starting in May, and consumers will receive letters from the IRS explaining the rebates, not phone calls.

"In any case, the IRS would not call them for bank account numbers or credit card numbers," Lamishaw says. Those who choose to have money direct deposited must include their bank account information on their tax return.

-- Posted: March 19, 2008
 
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