03 April 2006

IRS targets sites that steal identities

Concerned about a growing identity theft scheme as tax time approaches, the Internal Revenue Service issued a warning last week about Internet sites "phishing" for taxpayers' personal financial data. The IRS has identified sites in 18 countries posing as the IRS and using the agency's official logo. Targeted taxpayers are sent e-mails promising refunds and are lured to one of the sites. The IRS created an e-mail box -- phishing@irs.gov -- to report the sites. The agency never sends out unsolicited e-mails or asks for passwords or PINs. "I commend the IRS for its quick response in setting up a mechanism to investigate this fraud and track down these criminals," said Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge, who reported the problem to the agency. "I am also grateful to those who brought the issue to my attention for demonstrating the value of constituent contact with my office."