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Don’t be reeled in by tax phishers looking to steal your ID

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The IRS doesn’t want you to be hooked in a phishing expedition: It’s taking steps to scare away the anglers. The IRS has established an electronic mailbox——for you to forward suspicious-looking e-mail claiming to be from the agency. (IRS internal release 2006-49)

Warning: Scam artists continue to send fraudulent e-mails to unsuspecting taxpayers, directing them to access bogus Web sites that request personal information. The scammers then use the personal information illegally.

This activity, commonly known as “phishing,” is one of the leading causes of identity theft in the country.

Identity thieves use personal data to empty out bank accounts, run up credit card charges or apply for new loans, credit cards or other benefits in the victim’s name.

Typical scenario: A crook sends you an e-mail or pop-up message purporting to come from a business or organization you recognize, such as a bank, financial services company or government agency.

The message asks you to “update,” “validate” or “confirm” your account information. It requests—or even demands—that you visit its Web site to do so.

In some cases, the message appears to be from the IRS itself. It could relate to your tax refund or other matters near and dear to your heart.

For more detailed information about phishing for tax refunds, read the article at /newsroom/article/0,,id=155663,00.html.

Tip: If you notice any other illegal misuse of the IRS’s name, logo or forms, call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at its toll-free hotline, (800) 366-4484.

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