Consumer Corner Column

July Consumer Corner: Beware of IRS email scams

Release Date: Jul 01, 2011

By Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt 

Many Kansans have reported receiving suspicious emails that appear to be from the Internal Revenue Service. The email tells taxpayers their federal tax returns were rejected and asks the citizen to complete an attached form.

Don’t do it. These emails are not from the IRS. The form is usually a virus.

Another fake IRS email targets tax-exempt organizations, asking them to click on a link to access a refund claim form. These, too, are fake.

These are just some of the latest email scams attempting to steal personal information from consumers. Email scams and have been around almost as long as email itself. Scammers often pretend to be a government agency to trick consumers into handing over information. The emails may even look official – the fake IRS emails, for example, have the agency logo and appear to come from an official government email address.

But they are fake. It’s important to remember it can be easy for a scammer to set up a fake email account.

A healthy dose of skepticism is always appropriate when you receive a suspicious email. Often, these emails contain misspelled words or poor grammar, which can be a good sign it’s not legitimate. In this case, the IRS has warned consumers that it never sends unsolicited emails asking for personal information. When there is a problem with citizens’ tax returns, they are notified by a letter in the U.S. mail. You can verify the legitimacy of a letter from the IRS by calling the agency toll-free at (800) 829-1040.

The IRS has also set up a special email account to keep track of suspicious emails. If you receive an email claiming to be from the IRS, you can report it to the IRS by forwarding the email tophishing@irs.gov.

Identity theft is one of America’s fastest growing crimes. Sadly, these thieves can be very difficult to catch. In the attorney general’s office, we are working to beef up our consumer protection work, including our efforts to combat identity theft. We hope this focus will result in more scammers being caught and will help keep Kansans from becoming victims of identity theft.

But the most important person in preventing identity theft is not us – it’s you. Thanks for taking time to be on the alert.

If you do fall victim to identity theft or an email scam, remember that our office is here to help. You can contact our Consumer Protection Division toll-free at (800) 432-2310, or file a complaint online at www.ksag.org.

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