An e-mail circulating through North Texas claiming to give tax refunds or help claim unpaid taxes due, is not from the IRS, the agency warned Tuesday.
The IRS said it does not send unsolicited e-mail for these issues.
“If there is a problem with your account, if you’re due a refund, you’ll get a notice in the mail. --And the regular U.S. mail, not by electronic e-mail,” said IRS spokesman Clay Sanford.
The crime is called “phishing.” Instead of receiving a refund or paying back taxes, unsuspecting recipients of the fake e-mail become victims of theft by criminals who misuse the personal information they catch by "phishing."
“Some of them are domestic, some are from overseas, and they’re hard to catch,” said Sanford.
Denton accountant Martin Craft said he recently received one of the suspicious e-mails. He’s the Chief financial officer of his company and said he knew he had no tax problems, but worried that other people may not be so cautious.
“Most people either get nervous or they’re very responsive to the IRS,” Craft said. “So I didn’t want somebody being responsive to the IRS, and in this case being duped.”
The e-mail Craft received included a link to a Web site that included a form that looks very much like real IRS forms he has filled out in the past.
“What they were going to be asking for was name, social security number, banking information,” Craft said.
Craft forwarded the e-mail to the IRS and Tuesday the link that first sought his personal information was disabled.
“I’m pretty sure that’s the IRS blocking that,” Craft said. “I got an e-mail response back from the IRS saying, 'Thank you, we’re looking into it.'”
The IRS asks recipients to forward suspicious e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We have been successful in shutting down a number of these crooks,” Sanford said.