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February 10, 2013

Learn and avoid identity scams

NORMAN — Across the nation, identity thieves are using legitimate information to scam taxpayers, frequently posing as the Internal Revenue Service to do so. The IRS is taking this seriously and has created the IRS Identity Theft Protection Unit to address the growing problem. Being aware of some of the most common scams can help protect you from having your personal information used to commit fraud or other crimes.

· Phony IRS emails: In a “phishing” scam, an official-looking email shows an IRS logo that lures the consumer to a website that requests personal and financial information, such as a Social Security number, bank account, or credit card numbers. In truth, the IRS does not send out unsolicited e-mails, and does not use email to ask for detailed personal or financial information such as PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for credit cards or bank accounts. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayer via email. The only genuine IRS website is www.IRS.gov.

· Refund scam: In a refund scam, a bogus e-mail tells the recipient that he or she is eligible to receive a federal tax refund for a given amount (often $63.80) and sends the recipient to a website to complete a form to submit the tax refund request. The form then asks for personal and financial information. In fact, the IRS does not notify taxpayers of refunds via e-mail. And, taxpayers do not have to complete a special form or provide detailed financial information to obtain a refund. Refunds are based on information reported on the tax return.

· Antifraud Commission scam: In this case, the scammer sends an e-mail stating the IRS “Antifraud Commission” has found that someone tried to pay their taxes through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or EFTPS, using the e-mail recipient’s credit card and, as a result, some of the recipient’s money was lost and the remaining funds were blocked.

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