Special report: Avoiding IRS Scams - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Special report: Avoiding IRS Scams

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The IRS warns that scam season is underway.  As many  taxpayers are waiting on refunds,  the number of e-mail and telephone scams using the IRS name has increased dramatically. And the quality of these cons and scams is significantly better. 

You get an e-mail saying it's from the IRS, and that you have been selected to receive an Economic Stimulus Refund.  Just fill in your checking/savings account information and the cash is on the way. But this is a scam, and could cost you everything.

"This is the time of the year individuals tend to fall into these traps," IRS Media Specialist Mark Green said.

And the IRS is concerned because so many traps are out there, and law enforcement says many South Georgians are  falling victim.

 "It's a huge industry.  Hundreds of millions of dollars are lost in Georgia alone every year to these basically, organized crime people," said Dougherty County Sheriff's Office Captain Craig Dodd.

 "This is just one of the scams that take individuals who are expecting a check, or an economic stimulus check," Green said.

The IRS says thousands of Americans are receiving e-mails claiming to be from the IRS, telling you that your refund has been delayed, or you are eligible for a larger refund, or  a new economic stimulus program check.  All they want is you to give up your Social Security Number or checking account number. 

The IRS knows many of these scam e-mails are very convincing.  One new trick, they use real IRS official's names, like Mark Green. "It was devastating."

Green's own name was used in scam e-mails, lending credibility. Another new technology danger is being seen more.  Just open up one of those attachments, and they've got you.

"The attachment can be a malware, software that can attach itself to your personal information on your hard drive, and and send it to another area.  Whether it's in this country or down the street,"  Green said.

 It's called phising, and the IRS says today more American scam artists are targeting victims. But protecting yourself is easy, if you get an e-mail from the IRS, it's a fake.

"No one at the Internal Revenue Service would send out any unsolicted e-mail,"  Green said.

Same for telephone calls.  Another current telephone scam, a caller claiming to be from the IRS says they need to verify your bank account number.  The IRS says thousands of Americans are being targeted by these scams now. 

Don't fall victim to one- never give anyone, no matter what they offer or claim, your personal information. 

The IRS says if you get an e-mail claiming to be from them, don't open it, just delete it.  If you have a questionable message, you can forward it to their investigation unit at phishing@irs.gov.  Or call the IRS,  at 800-829-1040.

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