Wednesday, April 18, 2007

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IRS warns of new e-filing scam that rips off refunds

Gregg Keizer

 

April 16, 2007 (Computerworld) The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is warning Americans of a last-minute online scam where fraudulent sites pose as part of the agency's free tax-preparation service to poach refunds.

On Friday, the IRS issued an alert saying it had uncovered one or more sites masquerading as part of the Free File program. Free File, a partnership with 19 tax preparation services, offers free preparation and e-filing to anyone with an adjusted gross income under $52,000. It's accessible only through the IRS's own Web site.

The bogus sites, however, pretend to be part of the program, duping taxpayers into preparing their taxes and submitting them for e-filing. The criminals have been accepting user information, then substituting their own bank account information for refunds before resubmitting the modified returns to a real Free File participant, the IRS said.

"The final days of the tax season always bring tax scams," IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said in a statement. "Make sure you're really dealing with the IRS. ... The only way to do it is through the secure IRS.gov Web site." The Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration is investigating.

The IRS regularly warns taxpayers of possible scams; security vendors have also gotten in on the act with e-filing tips of their own.

The April 17 deadline for filing federal returns is two days later than usual this year, because April 15 fell on a Sunday and today is Emancipation Day, a District of Columbia holiday.

 

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