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New Scams Aimed At Taxpayers

By Staff | Feb 28, 2008

Taxpayers throughout Palo Alto County are being warned of a new scam that has appeared in the area. This scam involves the “rebate checks” that many are anticipating as part of the economic stimulus package passed by the president and Congress in recent days.

“Scammers are calling people stating that they are from the IRS,” explained Colleen Heldt, cashier and CFO at Iowa Trust & Savings Bank in Emmetsburg. “They’re telling people that in order to process their rebate checks, they need to verify or gather additional personal information.”

Heldt says that these scam artists are asking for individuals’ checking account and routing numbers.

“The scammers will then do an ACH (automated clearing house) entry which will debit all of the money out of their bank account,” Heldt noted. “Banks and the IRS will not call or e-mail you to ask for your personal information. They already have it.”

According to the Internal Revenue Service, this isn’t the only scam falsely using the name of the IRS to rob citizens of their cash and identity. Scammers are using both telephone calls and e-mails to conduct the following scams:

Rebate Phone Call – A fictitious “IRS” employee calls individuals to inform them that they are eligible for a rebate for the early filing of their taxes. They ask for the individual’s bank account information. If the victim refuses, they are told that they cannot receive the rebate.

Refund e-Mail – Via e-mail, an individual is notified that they are eligible for a tax refund. To receive their refund, they are directed to click on a link in the e-mail to a refund claim form where t hey enter their personal information.

Audit e-Mail – This e-mail scam informs the individual that their tax return will be audited. The e-mail may address the recipient by name and instruct them to click on links to complete forms with their personal information.

Changes to Tax Law e-Mail – Businesses, accountants, and “Treasury” managers have received this e-mail scam. The e-mail directs these individuals to download information on tax law changes by clicking on a series of links to publications on businesses, estate taxes, excise taxes, exempt organizations, IRAs, and other retirement plans. The IRS believes that clicking on the links may download a code which can take over the victim’s computer, allowing the scammers to steal personal information.

Paper Check Phone Call – Someone posing as an IRS employee calls an individual to inform them that the IRS has sent him or her a check. The caller states that because the check has not yet been cashed, the IRS wants to verify the individual’s bank account number.

All of these telephone calls and e-mails are scams. Do not respond to them. If you happen to receive one of these phone calls or e-mails and wish to report it, contact the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. Reporting these scams may help the government in tracking and finding these criminals.

More information on these and other scams can be found on the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov.