A few days ago the IRS released a report by the National Taxpayer Advocate, which concluded that tax-related identity theft rose 644% from 2004 to 2007.

The IRS is attempting to educate taxpayers, warning them of a new wave of scam using the IRS name in identity theft (aka phishing) faxes, e-mails. These letters will often threaten taxpayers that they will lose money or a refund if they do not respond. These types of scam are clearly trending upward, with taxpayers reporting 700 separate phishing incidents to the IRS for May and June alone. So far this year, taxpayers have reported about 1,600 phishing incidents to the IRS.

Recently, scammers have targeted taxpayers’ economic stimulus payments usually mostly e-mail scams that requesting detailed personal information and appear as though they came from the IRS. The message will recommend direct deposit into the taxpayer’s checking or savings account. To receive the payment, recipients must click on a link to complete and submit an online form by a certain date; otherwise, the e-mail warns, payment may be delayed. The form requests personal and financial data, including checking or savings account numbers that the scammers can use to gain access to the accounts.

In reality, the way members of the public receive their economic stimulus payment is to file a tax return with the IRS, not a special form. Additionally, the IRS does not request personal or financial information via e-mail. Information on how to obtain an economic stimulus payment may be found on the IRS Economic Stimulus Payments Information Center.

Remember, the IRS

– does not send unsolicited e-mail about tax account matters to taxpayers

– does not discuss tax account matters with taxpayers in e-mails

– does not request security-related personal information, such as PIN numbers, from taxpayers.

What to do if you receive an email from the IRS.

Anyone wishing to access the IRS Web site should type www.irs.gov into their Internet address window, rather than clicking on a link in an e-mail or opening an attachment, either of which may download malicious code or send the recipient to a phony Web site.

Those who have received a questionable e-mail claiming to come from the IRS may forward it to the following address: phishing@irs.gov. Use the instructions contained in an article on the IRS website titled Protect Yourself from Suspicious E-Mails or Phishing Schemes. Following the instructions will help the IRS track the suspicious e-mail to its origins and shut down the scam.

Those who have received a questionable telephone call that claims to come from the IRS may also use the phishing@irs.gov mailbox to notify the IRS.

More Resources

Taxpayer Advocate Service

Tax Information for Members of the U.S. Armed Forces

National Taxpayer Advocate’s FY 2009 Objectives Report to Congress


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