The Internal Revenue Service’s office that covers Long Island is warning taxpayers to beware of Internet “phishing” schemes by con artists impersonating the IRS to elicit personal financial information.
Such schemes flourish at this time of year as taxpayers wait for returns to be processed and for refund checks to arrive.
The agency says con artists might also use tweets, telephone calls and faxes to contact taxpayers. And, it says, the e-mails might include links to phoney websites with forms to be filled out with private information that criminals can use to steal the victim’s identity, access bank accounts, run up credit card charges or apply for loans in the victim’s name.
Two examples of the phishing e-mails on the agency’s website look official, complete with the IRS letterhead. But the sharp-eyed might notice that one of them gives itself away with a typographical error — “founds” instead of “funds” and some clumsy language, offering to let you “unblock” your purportedly compromised bank account funds “if needed it.”
Dianne Besunder, the IRS spokeswoman for the Long Island area, said in her phishing advisory, “The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail requesting detailed personal information, PIN numbers or similar access information for credit cards banks or other financial accounts.”
Phishing has become a growing concern within the agency because most taxpayers — including 5.9 million New Yorkers so far this year — now e-file.
Many, says Besunder might incorrectly assume that the IRS might contact them online about their taxes. “If the IRS has a question for you about your recently filed income tax return or your refund, you will most likely hear from us the old-fashioned way through “snail mail,” Besunder said.
The IRS asks that you report suspicious e-mails and bogus IRS Web sites to firstname.lastname@example.org, forwarding the bogus e-mail or Web site URL to the agency.
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