The Internal Revenue Service has alerted taxpayers about Internet scams in which fraudulent e-mails are sent that appear to be from the IRS.The e-mails direct the consumer to a Web link that requests personal and financial information, such as Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers. The practice of tricking victims into revealing private personal and financial information over the Internet is known as “phishing” for information.

The IRS does not send out unsolicited e-mails or ask for detailed personal and financial information. Additionally, the IRS never asks people for the PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for their credit card, bank or other financial accounts.

Last year, the IRS established an electronic mailbox, phishing@irs.gov, to receive copies of possibly fraudulent e-mails involving misuse of the IRS name, logo or Web site for investigation. Since the establishment of the mailbox, the IRS has received more than 17,700 e-mails from taxpayers reporting more than 240 separate phishing incidents. To date, investigations by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration have identified host sites in at least 27 different countries, as well as in the United States.

The IRS also reiterated that it does not:

  • Notify taxpayers of refunds via e-mail;
  • Require taxpayers to complete a special form, or provide detailed financial information to obtain a refund;
  • Have an Antifraud Commission or the authority to freeze a taxpayer’s credit card or bank account because of potential theft or fraud perpetrated against the taxpayer; and,
  • Handle lottery distributions.

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