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IRS Cautions Users of Fake E-Mails

There is a warning for taxpayers to be wary of fake e-mails containing images resembling those of the Internal Revenue Service and messages also seemingly from IRS. These messages are actually designed to steal personal and financial information, the IRS said on April 2, 2007. The IRS assured it never sends out such unsolicited e-mails. It also doesn't ask for credit card or bank account numbers or passwords or any other financial or personal data.

IRS spokesman Eric Smith said its agency was aware of the pick up in the volume of scams. There is also a trend in the increase of phony e-mails during March and April, he added.

Earlier too the agency had raised alarm about such phishing attacks, which involve websites and e-mails that imitate legitimate enterprises or institutions to commit theft of their passwords and similar sensitive information. The phony IRS sites look authentic because they have copied a number of images and content from the actual IRS web pages.

However, Smith said the IRS was working with Internet Service Providers to stop the hosting of these fraudulent sites.

The IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson cautioned Internet users about uninvited e-mails they receive or messages that come from unknown senders. The best thing would be, of course, to confirm the sender. 10nbc published this on April 2, 2007.

Last year, the IRS enforced phishing@irs.gov, an electronic mailbox, to collect copies of fake e-mails that misused the agency's name, logo or Web site and then put them for probe. Since then the agency has got about 17,700 e-mails from return submitters reporting 240 phishing incidents. Till today Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration's (TIGTA) investigations have found host sites in 27 countries and also the United States.

The IRS stressed it also doesn't notify taxpayers about refunds through e-mail, or ask them to fill up special forms, or require them to provide financial information to collect a refund. The agency has an Antifraud Commission that can freeze the credit card or bank account of a taxpayer in a situation of a possible theft. The statement appeared in Webcpa on April 3, 2007.

Related article: IRS Cautions Taxpayers of Recent Email Scam

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