Following a recent increase in scam e-mails, the Internal Revenue Service has issued reminders for taxpayers to be on the lookout for bogus e-mails claiming to be from the agency.

The IRS saw an increase in complaints in recent weeks about these e-mails, which are designed to trick the recipients into disclosing personal and financial information.

"The IRS does not send out unsolicited e-mails asking for personal information," said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson, in a statement. "Don't be taken in by these criminals."

Since November 2005, nearly 100 different scams have been identified, with 20 of those coming last month -- the most since 40 were identified in March at the height of the filing season.

Investigations by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration have identified sites hosting more than two dozen phishing scams, many originating outside the United States and stretching from Aruba to Malaysia.

The current scams claim to come from the IRS, tell recipients that they are due a federal tax refund, and direct them to a Web site that appears to be a genuine IRS site. The bogus sites contain forms or interactive Web pages similar to IRS forms or Web pages but which have been modified to request detailed personal and financial information. E-mail addresses ending with in the .edu domain suffix have been heavily targeted.

This spring, the IRS established an electronic mailbox for taxpayers to send information about suspicious e-mails they receive, at phishing@irs.gov. More than 7,000 bogus e-mails have been forwarded to the IRS, with nearly 1,300 forwarded last month.

Previously on WebCPA:

Fire Closes IRS HQ; Agency Opens Mailbox for E-Mail Scams (March 30, 2006)

IRS Announces 'Dirty Dozen' Tax Scams (Feb. 10, 2006)

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