IRS Warns of New Identity Theft Scams

There are many identity theft scams that can be found in most personal email in-boxes. In any given week, bogus notifications of lottery winnings and inheritance “notices” can be received by those with email accounts. One may be informed that they can have a portion of a large cash benefit. All that would need to be done is to move the money into the U.S. through their bank account.

The increase in scam emails has been attributed to a poor economy. During these times, scam artists will increase their efforts in order to prey on the unsuspecting. One may see a current spike in mortgage rescue and government debt-relief scams. However, most scams are only variations of scams that have existed for many decades. In this way, today’s Internet scam may actually be an updated version of a scam that was popular back in 1920.

Some of the more recent scam techniques will entail con artist who are posing as U.S. government officials. For example, these fake officials can say that they’re from the IRS, FBI or Department of Justice. A person may be contacted thought a phishing email, telephone calls, voice and text messages. They may even knock on your door.

The IRS has issued warnings to consumers to alert them of recent criminal activity regarding IRS identifiers. These can include the IRS log and name or even a phony IRS website. This is designed to fool taxpayers into thinking the scam is sponsored by the IRS.

Current scam examples

The Making Work Pay section of the economic recovery law of 2009 is the inspiration for this phishing email. In the email, details of a purported refund credit that is available to workers, retirees and other consumers are outlined. It will be pointed out that refund credit can be issued directly though an individual’s bank account. All that needs to be done is to register the bank account with the IRS. The email will have a link that supposedly will register the bank account and claim the refund amount. The link will lead to a phony website to register the bank account. The phony site will not only request bank information, but will also ask for a social security number and other personal identification.

This will lead to a criminal being able to take over the victim’s entire identity. This can include; accessing a bank account, acquitting new credit cards, creating new credit accounts and running up substantial debt. But these are only the short-term issues. Long-term problems can also arise. These can be; financial loss, IRS problems and even accusations of criminal activity.

It should also be noted that most Making Work Pay tax credits have been received by workers in their paychecks. The credit was designed for wage earners. Those workers received the money in the form of decreased withholding taxes. This is different than a lump sum payment. In addition, non-wage earners (retirees and consumers not earning wages) were not eligible for this credit.

Many phishing scam emails are relatively sophisticated. Therefore they can difficult to spot. However, here are some things to look for:

• Email that is baited with a promise of an IRS tax refund.
• Offerings to pay the email recipient for taking part in an IRS survey.
• Threats for non-response. This can be in the form of additional taxes.
• Incorrect spelling of the Internal Revenue Service or other agency.
• Odd phrasing or incorrect grammar (indicating an overseas origin).
• Request for detailed personal information (SSN, mother’s maiden name, etc.).
• A very long email address for the link (move the mouse over the link to see the actual email address).
• A link that does not contain (The actual IRS website address).

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