Consumers should be on the lookout for phony e-mails and faxes in which scammers use the name of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to gain access to taxpayers' computers and personal information, the agency announced on Thursday.
Most of the scams involve promises of bogus tax refunds and economic stimulus payments, and instruct consumers to click on a link to access a claim form -- or to provide detailed personal information -- allowing scammers to commit identity theft. An IRS Press Release issued Thursday contains detailed information on the scams, and steps consumers can take to protect themselves. The IRS advises people wishing to access the IRS Web site to type www.irs.gov into their Internet address window, rather than clicking on a link in an e-mail or opening an attachment (either of which could cause consumer to inadvertently download malicious code or visit a harmful web site). According to the Associated Press, the IRS "does not normally send e-mails to taxpayers and does not request security-related personal information, such as PIN numbers, from taxpayers."