Be Alert to Tax Rebate Scam
The $168 billion economic stimulus package signed into law today by President Bush
will send rebate checks this spring to 130 million Americans. That's the good
news. The bad news is that an aggressive phone and email scam seeks to exploit the
eagerness of taxpayers to receive their checks.
This phone version of this fraud has a caller claiming to be an Internal Revenue
Service employee and telling consumers they are eligible for a tax-rebate check
from the government. But to process the rebate, people are informed they will need
to provide personal banking information. If they refuse to give this information,
consumers are told they will not receive the money.
The IRS will not make any such phone calls, and consumers should never provide any
personal information over the phone to anyone you do not know.
An email version of this scam, also claiming to come from the IRS, encourages
recipients to access a Web link or download and fill out an attached form to
provide personal financial information. Recipients may be led to believe that
failing to provide the information will knock them out of good standing with the
IRS, prevent them from receiving their rebate or tax refund or even cause them to
be audited. The attachments can also contain spyware that enables the thief to
steal victims? personal and financial information.
I urge Arizonans to follow these guidelines to guard against identity thieves
during this year?s tax season:
The only IRS Web site is www.irs.gov , and all genuine IRS Web pages begin
with http://www.irs.gov/ . If you want to access the IRS via Internet, you
should type this address into your browser. Do NOT follow links provided in
The IRS and the Arizona Department of Revenue do not send unsolicited
tax-related emails to taxpayers and will never ask for personal information
(such as Social Security, bank account or PIN numbers) via email. If you
receive an email claiming to be from the IRS or Department of Revenue that
asks for personal or tax-related information, you should be highly
skeptical. Suspicious tax-related emails can be forwarded to
Be careful with all documents that contain personal financial or tax-related
information. Scam artists are aware that mailboxes, home offices and even
trash bins often contain sensitive documents during tax season. Make sure to
collect your mail regularly, store all tax related documents in a safe place
and shred all documents that contain personal financial information before
throwing them away.
The rebate checks will be a welcome benefit for taxpayers. Don't let the prospect
of getting yours allow you to fall victim to a scam artist.