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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: Liz Brocker, Public Information Officer, Office of Attorney General, 701.328.2213
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 Beth Boustead, Public Information Officer, Office of State Tax Commissioner, 701.328.3039

Taxpayers Beware of Scammers Targeting Your Refund and Personal Information

BISMARCK, N.D. It's tax time and Tax Commissioner Cory Fong and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem are cautioning consumers about a recent email scam that claims to be official IRS correspondence.

The scam email claims that the recipient's "Income Tax Refund Appeal" has been rejected and instructs the taxpayer to resubmit the appeal by clicking on a link included in the email. This is the latest variation of the "phishing" scam emails.

"Be very cautious when providing your personal information by email," said Fong. "Neither the Tax Department nor the IRS use email to contact a taxpayer about a particular case nor to request confidential information such as bank account or social security numbers."

"There are numerous versions of these phony IRS emails and they are all scams. Do not click on any links within the email or open any attachments," cautioned Stenehjem. "Instead, simply delete the email without response."

This time of year is particularly busy with scammers seeking to take advantage of taxpayers who are often anxious to learn about the status of their income tax return or refund. These scams are designed to try and trick people into revealing confidential personal information such as social security numbers, bank account numbers and dates of birth. Once the scam artists have this information, they can gain access to the taxpayer's bank accounts.

"We never request private information nor do we send you personal information through an email," said Fong. "If you get an email that appears to be from the Tax Department, or the IRS, no matter how official it looks, if it asks for you to enter personal information, or to verify or confirm the status of your refund or account, it is a scam."

According to Parrell Grossman, director of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, consumers should be extremely cautious to avoid the dangers of "phishing" email attacks. "Never open emails from unknown senders, never click on links within emails unless you are positive the email is legitimate, and never provide personal information unless you are sure it is safe to do so," said Grossman.

Fong suggests that taxpayers who get a suspicious email that claims to be from the IRS or the Tax Department should call first in order to determine if it is legitimate. Taxpayers may call the IRS at 800.829.1040, the North Dakota Tax Department at 877.328.7088, or the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at 800.472.2600. Taxpayers can learn more about tax-related scams by visiting the IRS web site at www.irs.gov.

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