IRS: Phishing Emails Look More and More Real

IRS says it never sends unsolicited emails to taxpayers

By Kevin Cokely
|  Thursday, Mar 1, 2012  |  Updated 11:45 PM CDT
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The IRS says identity thieves are using logos and colors that make their phishing emails look more legitimate.

Kevin Cokely, NBC 5 News

The IRS says identity thieves are using logos and colors that make their phishing emails look more legitimate.

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Identity thieves love to go phishing during tax season. This year, they're using better bait.

The attorney general of Texas is warning taxpayers about an email that looks like it's from the Internal Revenue Service and claims the taxpayer missed the filing deadline.

"We don't send unsolicited emails to taxpayers for any reason," said Clay Sanford, of the IRS in North Texas.

Sanford said the IRS would never send an unsolicited email that asks for personal information or bank account information.

The bogus email warns that the recipient could owe thousands of dollars and provides a link to a fake IRS website.

Even just clicking on the email opens the door for identity thieves to steal all kinds of personal financial information.

"They're becoming more lifelike in nature," Sanford said. "They're using colors, font styles, [and] they're using logos from our website, and they're making them look more and more real."

Turbo Tax and other tax software companies report an increase in similar schemes involving fraudulent emails that appear legitimate.

"The danger in these email phishing scams -- especially this time of year, during tax season -- is that, you know, since you're in the habit of filing your taxes this time of year, you may see something like this and think it's real," Sanford said.

Sanford said people should delete the emails and report them to phishing@irs.gov.

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