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Attorney General Warns Of IRS Email Scam

CONTACT: Sandi Everitt, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5507

July 31, 2009 Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell is warning Vermont consumers to avoid the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) email scam that has reemerged in Vermont. “The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers through email,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “Responding to an unexpected email from what looks like the IRS could result in identity theft and financial loss.”

The scam begins when a consumer receives an unsolicited email with the IRS logo or the name of an IRS tax auditor showing what appears to be a legitimate government email address. The consumer is informed that they “are eligible to receive a tax refund” and names a specific dollar amount. In the email there is a link to a form to be submitted to claim the refund. The form also bears the official IRS logo and requests personal and financial information including credit card numbers and ATM pin numbers.

The email is a “phishing” scheme aimed at gaining access to consumers’ personal, tax and financial information. Phishing is the attempt to acquire personal information by falsely claiming to be a legitimate organization. Responding to a phishing email or phone call can lead to identity theft and monetary theft. Attorney General Sorrell urges consumers to avoid being scammed by following these rules:

  1. Do not respond to unsolicited emails from the IRS or other seemingly legitimate parties that request personal, tax or financial information online. Delete the email.

  2. Do not open any attachments that accompany unsolicited email or click on links within the email to open attachments or that go to other websites that appear legitimate. The attachment may contain information that will infect your computer or gain access to personal information stored on your computer. Do not enter personal or financial information on any unsolicited website.

  3. Report that you received an unsolicited email seeking access to your personal information. Governmental entities and legitimate companies have information on their websites advising consumers how to report phishing scams. Consumers should report IRS email scams, phishing and bogus IRS websites to the IRS directly at: phishing@irs.gov. You may also forward phishing email to spam@uce.gov and reportphishing@antiphishing.org.

To learn how to protect against identity theft and to learn about resources available to Vermont consumers, visit the Vermont Attorney General’s website at www.atg.state.vt.us or contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program at 1-800-649-2424.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.