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IRS Warns of Email Scams That Seek Info


June 30, 2011 (The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio) The IRS is warning taxpayers of an email scam seeking personal information, which could lead to identity theft.



The email, which appears to be coming from the IRS, states that tax payments made through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System have been rejected. Recipients of the bogus email are asked to click on a link, which leads to a download of malicious software through which the scammers can gather personal information.

The IRS learned about the scam last week through a comment on its website, said IRS spokeswoman Jennifer Jenkins.

People receiving the emails should report them at phishing@irs.gov and then delete them, she said.

"The IRS doesn't send unsolicited emails to taxpayers about their tax accounts and doesn't communicate payment information through email."

Scams like this are common, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which collects data nationally on consumer identity theft and fraud.

In Ohio, 6,800 complaints about identity theft were reported in 2010, said Jon Miller Steiger, director of the FTC's east-central region.

"(Phishing) is something that is very easy to set up," Steiger said. "You send an email that looks convincing, and you put a link in it that you hope consumers will click on."

Scammers are also copying images from company or government-agency websites to make their communications look more legitimate, he said.

People ages 20 to 29 make up the biggest demographic filing identity-theft complaints nationwide, according to FTC data.

Information on phishing or what to do if you think you are a victim of identity theft can be found on the Federal Trade Commission website, www.ftc.gov, or by calling its hot line at 1-877-382-4357, Steiger said.

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