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Avoid Email Scammers Claiming to be IRS

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The IRS recently produced Tax Tip 2012-08, which talks about scams you need to be aware of, really heinous contacts where the scammers pretend to be the  IRS.  But here’s the key: the IRS doesn’t use email as the regular communication to deliver notices of deficiency, requests for additional information, and the like.  The IRS is big about the paper notice – you’ll recognize it immediately, with the official IRS seal and all.

The information that the IRS presents is good to know, you should be familiar with what they have to say.

Here is the text of the tax tip:

Don’t be Scammed by Cyber Criminals

The Internal Revenue Service receives thousands of reports each year from taxpayers who receive suspicious emails, phone calls, faxes or notices claiming to be from the IRS.  Many of these scams fraudulently use the IRS name or logo as a lure to make the communication appear more authentic and enticing.  The goal of these scams – known as phishing – is to trick you into revealing your personal and financial information.  The scammers can then use your information – like your Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers – to commit identity theft or steal your money.

Here are five things the IRS wants you to know about phishing scams.

  1. The IRS never asks for detailed information like PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for credit card, bank or other financial information.
  2. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.  If you receive an email from someon claiming to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site:
  • Do not reply to the message.
  • Do not open any attachments.  Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
  • Do not click on any links.  If you clicked on links in a suspicious email or phishing website and entered confidential information, visit the IRS website and enter the search term ‘identity theft’ for more information and resources to help.
  1. The address of the official IRS website is  Do not be confused or misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending with .com, .net, .org, or other designations instead of .gov.  If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS but you suspect it is bogus, do not provide any personal information on the suspicious site and report it to the IRS.
  2. If you receive a phone call, fax, or letter in the mail from an individual claiming to be from the IRS but you suspect they are not an IRS employee, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate need to contact you.  Report any bogus correspondence.  You can forward a suspicious email to
  3. You can help shut down these schemes and prevent others from being victimized.  Details on how to report specific types of scams and what to do if you’ve been victimized are available at Click on “phishing” on the home page.
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