As residents across Kentucky’s First District begin to file
their annual federal tax returns, U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield is warning
constituents to beware of several scams currently targeting taxpayers.
“While tax season this year will, happily, bring sizeable
rebate checks to most Kentuckians, it will also bring more opportunities for
con artists to dupe taxpayers out of their money,” Whitfield said. “I am
committed to ensuring Kentucky residents have all the information they need to
avoid falling victim to one of these scams.”
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that there
are currently several email and telephone scams which are using the IRS name
fraudulently. These scams trick people into revealing personal and financial
information such as Social Security, bank account and credit card numbers,
which can then be used to commit identity theft.
If you believe you are the victim of a scam or have
any questions, please call the IRS hotline at (800) 366-4484. The most recent
scams the IRS is warning taxpayers to be aware of are described below.
Rebate Phone Call
At least one scheme using the word “rebate” as part of the
lure has been identified. In that scam, consumers receive a phone call from
someone identifying himself as an IRS employee. The caller tells the targeted
victim that he is eligible for a sizable rebate for filing his taxes early. The
caller then states that he needs the target’s bank account information for the
direct deposit of the rebate. If the target refuses, he is told that he cannot
receive the rebate.
This phone call is a scam. The IRS does not force taxpayers
to use direct deposit. Those who opt for direct deposit do so by completing the
appropriate section of their tax return, when they file; the IRS does not
gather the information by telephone.
The IRS has seen several variations of a refund-related
bogus e-mail which falsely claims to come from the IRS, tells the recipient
that he or she is eligible for a tax refund for a specific amount, and
instructs the recipient to click on a link in the e-mail to access a refund
claim form. The form asks the recipient to enter personal information that the
scamsters can then use to access the e-mail recipient’s bank or credit card
This e-mail is a phony. The IRS does not send unsolicited
e-mail about tax account matters to individual, business, tax-exempt or other
taxpayers. Filing a tax return is the only way to apply for a tax refund. The
only official IRS Web site is located at www.irs.gov.
Another new scam contains features not seen before by the
IRS. The e-mail notifies the recipient that his or her tax return will be
audited, a technique calculated to get almost anyone’s attention. Unusual for a
scam e-mail, it may contain a salutation in the body addressed to the specific
recipient by name. Most scam e-mails seen by the IRS are sent using the same
technique used by spammers, in which hundreds of thousands of messages are sent
to potential victims based on Internet address. Because of the volume, the
typical scam e-mail is not personalized.
This e-mail instructs the recipient to click on links to
complete forms with personal and account information, which the scammers use to
commit identity theft. This e-mail is a phony. The IRS does not send
unsolicited, tax-account related e-mails to taxpayers.
Changes to Tax Law E-Mail
This bogus e-mail is addressed to businesses, accountants
and “Treasury” managers. It instructs them to download information on tax law
changes by clicking on a series of links to publications on businesses, estate
taxes, excise taxes, exempt organizations and IRAs and other retirement plans.
The IRS believes that clicking on a link downloads malware onto the recipient’s
computer. Malware is malicious code that can take over the victim’s computer
hard drive, giving someone remote access to the computer, or it could look for
passwords and other information and send them to the scamster. There are other
types of malware, as well. The urls contained in the link are not legitimate
IRS Web addresses. All IRS.gov Web page addresses begin with http://www.irs.gov/.
Paper Check Phone Call
In a current telephone scam, a caller claims to be an IRS
employee who is calling because the IRS sent a check to the individual being
called. The caller states that because the check has not been cashed, the IRS
wants to verify the individual’s bank account number. In reality, the IRS
leaves it entirely up to the individual to choose to cash or not cash a paper
check. The IRS does not contact taxpayers to verify account information.