Beware of those who impersonate IRS at tax time

Mar 6 2011 - 9:43pm


OGDEN -- With tax season in full swing, the Internal Revenue Service is warning Utahns not to fall victim to scammers posing as the IRS.

The IRS receives thousands of reports every year from taxpayers who receive e-mails, phone calls or other notices that claim to be from the IRS -- but are not. If the victim responds to the notice with their information, the imposters use Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card numbers to commit identity theft or steal the victim's money.

The IRS knows the crime as a "phishing" scam.

"We see more of this during this particular time of the year," said Bill Bunson, IRS spokesman. "The majority arrive as an e-mail, and they're going to claim to be from the IRS, and they're going to want personal and financial information that the IRS already has or can obtain."

The IRS typically calls or sends the taxpayer a letter, Brunson said. If someone has any concern that a call or letter is suspicious, they can always call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to confirm the notice is legitimate, he said.

The IRS does not ask for detailed personal and financial information such as PIN numbers, account passwords or similar secret access information for financial accounts.

The service also warns not to reply to a suspicious e-mail. And do not open any e-mail attachments or click any links, which can contain a virus or malware to infect a computer.

About half of the e-mail phishing scams originate overseas, Bunson said.

Also, if someone discovers a website that claims to be the IRS but might be bogus, do not provide any personal information and report the site to the IRS.

"Do not be confused or misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov," the IRS warns in a statement.

The IRS advises visiting its website for more information and resources about phishing scams and identity theft.

From Around the Web