The Internal Revenue Service warned taxpayers to beware of several current e-mail and telephone scams that use the IRS name as a lure.The goal of the scams is to trick people into revealing personal and financial information, such as Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers, which the scammers can use to commit identity theft. Typically, identity thieves use a victim's personal and financial data to empty the victim's financial accounts, run up charges on the victim's existing credit cards, apply for new loans, credit cards, services or benefits in the victim's name, file fraudulent tax returns or even commit crimes. Most of these fraudulent activities can be committed electronically from a remote location, including overseas. Committing these activities in cyberspace allows scammers to act quickly and cover their tracks before the victim becomes aware of the theft. The most recent scams brought to IRS attention are the rebate phone call, in which a bogus IRS employee tells the consumer he is eligible for a sizable rebate for filing his taxes early; a link for a refund that is e-mailed to tax-exempt organizations bearing the supposed signature of the IRS Exempt Organizations business division; and an e-mail inviting recipients to click on a series of links to download information on changes in the tax law, but which downloads malware onto the recipient's computer. A new scam, not seen before by the IRS, notifies the recipient by e-mail that his or her tax return will be audited. The e-mail instructs the recipient to click on links to complete forms with personal and account information that the scammers will use to commit identity theft.
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