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600 E. Boulevard Ave.
  Bismarck, ND 58505-0599
  701.328.7088 phone
  701.328.3700 fax
  877.328.7088 toll-free
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Cory Fong, Tax Commissioner 701-328-2770
Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Fong Warns Taxpayers About E-mail Tax Scam

BISMARCK, N.D. - Tax Commissioner Cory Fong warns consumers to be wary of a recent income tax scam targeting taxpayers via e-mail designed to look like official Internal Revenue Service (IRS) correspondence.

“The IRS, like the State Tax Department, does not send unsolicited e-mails to taxpayers about their refunds. Taxpayers need to be wary about any e-mail that appears to come from the IRS,” said Fong.

Internet scammers are taking advantage of the increased popularity of electronically filed tax returns. A recent e-mail being circulated is set up to appear to be from the IRS and uses the IRS logo. The ploy, known as “phishing,” is showing up in some taxpayers e-mail. The bogus e-mail tells the recipient that he or she is eligible to receive a tax refund for a certain amount. It then instructs the recipient that, to access a form for the tax refund, the recipient must use a link contained in the e-mail. When the recipient clicks the link, the recipient is taken to another web site that requests personal information, such as Social Security Number, bank account and credit card information. The Internet thieves then gain access to the financial accounts of unsuspecting consumers.

Fong said, “We want to make taxpayers aware that neither the State Tax Department nor the IRS require taxpayers to complete a special form to obtain a refund. And, neither agency asks for personal identifying or financial information via unsolicited e-mail.”

Fong added that, due to the very nature of the work performed by the IRS, the IRS is a popular identity for scammers to use. “This is particularly alarming because thieves pose as the IRS - an agency that has contact with millions of consumers,” said Fong. “This means a large pool of citizens is potentially being phished, which increases the chances for a successful theft to take place.”

Fong suggests that taxpayers who get a suspicious e-mail that claims to be from the IRS or the Tax Department, call the agencies in order to determine if it is legitimate. Taxpayers may call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040, and the telephone number for the North Dakota Tax Department is 1-800-638-2901.

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