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February 24, 2009, Volume 55, No. 23

One Step Ahead

Another tip in a series provided by the Offices of Information Systems & Computing and Audit, Compliance & Privacy.

IRS Warning: Tax Season Scams

Identity thieves have a new technique this year to make their IRS tax scam seem more credible.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that fraudulent e-mail is circulating that purports to come from the IRS. The e-mail includes attachments of letters on real IRS letterhead and real IRS forms. The victim is instructed to fill out the forms, including social security numbers, and to fax the forms to a phone number. Thieves hope the authentic-looking documents and the use of a fax will trick an otherwise skeptical recipient into disclosing their social security number.

In previous years, victims were asked to send their social security number in e-mail or to enter it on a website. Some scams offer help expediting your tax refund or reference the 2008 Economic Stimulus rebate. Other attacks instruct you to download documents containing harmful keystroke logging software designed to steal your passwords, bank account and credit card numbers.

According to the Inquirer, the IRS wants taxpayers to hear one message loud and clear:

“The Internal Revenue Service does not communicate with taxpayers via unsolicited e-mail,” said J. Russell George, US Treasury inspector general for tax administration. “Some of these bogus e-mails are so sophisticated that people who are uninformed can and do fall prey to this type of scam. That is why it is so imperative that we continue to get this message out to people.”

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Almanac - February 24, 2009, Volume 55, No. 23