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January 26, 2014

Avoiding identity theft scams

NORMAN — Across the nation, identity thieves are using legitimate information to scam honest taxpayers, and frequently posing as the IRS to do so. The IRS 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 residents from having 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. The IRS does not send out unsolicited emails and does not use email to ask for detailed personal or financial information. The only genuine IRS website is IRS.gov.

· Refund scam: A bogus email 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 asks for personal and financial information. The IRS does not notify taxpayers of refunds via email, and taxpayers do not have to complete a form or provide detailed financial information to obtain a refund. Refunds are based on information reported on the tax return.

· Antifraud Commission scam: The scammer sends an email 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 email recipient’s credit card and some of the recipient’s money was lost and the remaining funds were blocked. The email includes a link that sends the recipient to a website where he or she is directed to enter personal and financial information to unblock their funds. The IRS does not have an Antifraud Commission and does not have the authority to freeze a taxpayer’s credit card or bank account because of potential theft or fraud perpetrated against the taxpayer.

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