IRS Warns That Scammers May Time E-mails to Try to Trick Filers

The following is a press release from the Internal Revenue Service:

Most people are aware that the April 15 tax filing deadline has just passed. The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers that scammers are aware, too, and may send official-looking e-mails to phish for private information.

"The IRS does not ever send e-mails about your taxes," said IRS spokesman Dee Harris Stepter. "If you filed your tax return recently, don't let a scam e-mail trick you into thinking the IRS is contacting you about it."

Stepter said nearly 70 percent of Louisianans and 74 percent of Mississippians e-filed their returns last year, and because electronic tax filing is so common, people may wrongly assume the IRS will contact them online about their taxes.  But the IRS never sends private taxpayer information by e-mail and will never ask for it that way, she said.

"If you file electronically, you probably will get a confirmation e-mail from your tax software company that the IRS has accepted your electronically filed tax return," Stepter said. "This confirmation email is not directly from the IRS."

According to Stepter, phishing is close to the top of the IRS' 2010 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams list and these scam e-mails often are very convincing. The emails may say a review of your taxes has resulted in a refund or it may threaten you with an audit or investigation if you fail to respond. The scammers may even personalize the email; addressing you by your name. Stepter also cautioned that clicking on links in scam e-mails or opening attachments may expose your computer to malicious code that will infect it.

To check on your refund, visit IRS.gov and click on "Where's My Refund?".  You can generally get information about your refund 72 hours after IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or three to four weeks after mailing a paper return. You'll need to input the primary Social Security Number on your 2009 return, your filing status (Single, Married Filing Jointly, etc.) and the exact amount of refund you expect.  If you don't have Internet access, call 1-800-829-1954 for 24/7 automated refund information.

Information is available at www.IRS.gov about how to assist the IRS in battling these scammers by forwarding the scam e-mails to the agency with the encoding still intact. Important information is also available for anyone who has responded to a scam e-mail by giving out private information.

Taxpayers are encouraged to read the entire 2010 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams list at IRS.gov so as not to become victims of or unintended participants in a tax scam.