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Beware latest tax refund scam

Just about a month ago, we had a tax scam alert about a phony survey, blogged about here. Now, as we approach the Oct. 15 deadline for procrastinators to get their 2006 tax returns filed, con artists are back at it.

Wheres_my_refund_2 This new e-mail phishing scam is trying to get personal and financial data by imitating the IRS' "Where's My Refund?" Web page. That's the real refund page logo there at left.

But criminals have created a fake Web site called "Get Your Tax Refund!" The con artists are sending e-mails that claim the IRS has calculated the recipient's "fiscal activity" and determined that he or she is eligible for a refund. The taxpayer then is instructed to click a link that will take them to the bogus refund page, which copies the appearance of "Where's My Refund?"

The official, legitimate "Where's My Refund?" online tracking tool allows you to trace your refund online. At the IRS site, you enter your Social Security number, filing status and exact amount of refund shown on your return. The search program then will tell you the status of the tax cash you're expecting to get back.

While the scam refund site also wants individuals' Social Security numbers, it goes further. Instead of next asking taxpayers to enter their expected refund amounts, "Get Your Tax Refund!" asks for credit card numbers, which then go straight to identity thieves.

Reporting tax scammers: If a "Get Your Tax Refund!" or any other suspicious message from Uncle Sam shows up in your e-mail box, contact the IRS or the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), which investigates groups or individuals impersonating the IRS.

You can forward the fake e-mails to a special IRS mailbox at [email protected]. If you prefer to report the scam via phone, call TIGTA toll-free at (800) 366-4484.

You can see an example of tax phishing e-mail here and one that incorporates fake IRS page here.

The IRS offers tips here on how to confirm a Web page is legitimate and on how to protect yourself from phishing criminals here.


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