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Don't be scammed by fake IRS communications

Published: February 25, 2011 10:17 AM

Each year, the IRS receives thousands of reports from taxpayers who receive suspicious emails, phone calls, faxes or notices claiming to be from the IRS, fraudulently using the IRS name or logo as a lure to make the communication appear authentic and enticing.

The goal of these scams " known as phishing " is to trick individuals into revealing personal and financial information. The scammers use that information " social security number, bank account or credit card numbers, etc. " to commit identity theft or steal money from honest, trusting individuals.

The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email, nor does the IRS ask for detailed personal and financial information like PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts via email.

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If you receive an email from someone claiming to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site, do not reply to the message. Do not open any attachments (which may contain malicious code that will infect your computer), or click on any links. Forward the email, as-is, to phishing@irs.gov, and then delete the original email message you received.

The official IRS website is www.irs.gov. Don't be confused or misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS but you suspect it is bogus, do not provide any personal information on the suspicious site and report it to the IRS.

If you clicked on links in a suspicious email or phishing website and entered confidential information, visit the IRS website and enter the search term 'identity theft' for more information and resources to help.

If you receive a suspicious phone call, fax or letter from someone claiming to be from the IRS, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate need to contact you. Report any bogus correspondence.

You can help shut down these schemes and prevent others from being victimized. Details on how to report specific types of scams and what to do if you've been victimized are available at www.irs.gov, keyword "phishing."


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