IRS Warns of New ID Theft Scams

The Internal Revenue Service issued an alert about new identity theft scams from fraudsters using the IRS’s name, logo and Web address.

In one scheme, a phishing e-mail purporting to come from the IRS references the Making Work Pay provision of the 2009 economic recovery law. It says that there is a refundable credit available to workers, consumers and retirees that can be paid into the recipient’s bank account if the recipient registers their account information with the IRS. The e-mail contains links to register the account and to claim the tax refund.

In another phishing scheme, recipients receive an e-mail claiming to come from the Treasury Department notifying them that they will receive millions of dollars in recovered funds or lottery winnings or a cash consignment if they provide certain personal information, including their phone numbers, via return e-mail. The e-mail may be just the first step in a multi-step scheme, in which the victim is later contacted by telephone or a follow-up e-mail message, and instructed to deposit taxes on the funds or winnings before they can receive any of it. Alternatively, they may be sent a phony check of the funds or winnings and told to deposit it, but pay 10 percent in taxes or fees.

In another scam, fraudsters modify a genuine IRS form, the W-8BEN, “Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding,” to request detailed personal and financial information, such as nationality, passport number, bank account and PIN numbers, spouse’s name and mother’s maiden name. The scammers may use the genuine form number and name or may make up a new form number, such as W-4100B2.

In yet another scheme, a bogus e-mail that claims to come from the IRS tells the recipient that they are eligible to receive a tax refund for a given amount. It instructs the recipient to click on a link contained in the e-mail to access and complete a form for the tax refund. The form requires the entry of personal and financial information. Several recent variations on this scam have claimed to come from the exempt-organizations area of the IRS. Others have included the name and purported signature of a genuine or a fictitious IRS executive.

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