Washington (May 10, 2004) -- Taxpayers who give personal information to combat charges that they are under investigation for tax fraud are opening themselves up to identity theft, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

In this ploy, unsuspecting consumers receive an e-mail claiming they are under investigation for tax fraud and are subject to prosecution. The e-mail informs recipients they can help the investigation by providing "real" information and directs them to an official-looking Web site, http://deptreas.org/irs/7634//, where detailed personal information must be provided to dispute the charge.

At the request of the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the Internet service provider that was hosting the Web site has shut it down. The scheme is being investigated by TIGTA, which addresses threats to federal tax administration.

The bogus IRS Web page and the e-mail in this instance contained several grammatical errors, rendering them immediately suspect. However, the IRS warned that new versions of the scam could surface, including more effectively written text and a different destination Web site. Anyone who has received suspect communication should call TIGTA's toll-free fraud referral hotline at (800) 366-4484.

-- WebCPA staff

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