'Net crooks run IRS scam

Federal Trade Commission on identity theft

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Identity thieves have been using e-mail and a fake Internal Revenue Service Web site to trick unsuspecting citizens into revealing their Social Security numbers and other personal information on the Internet, IRS and Treasury Department officials said last week.

The fake IRS Web site was shut down at the request of IRS and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration officials who contacted the Internet service provider that was hosting the site. The IG is investigating the scam.

Identity thieves had been sending e-mail messages telling citizens they were under investigation for tax fraud. The recipients were told that they could help clear their names by providing detailed information such as Social Security numbers, driver's license information, and bank and credit card numbers.

IRS officials issued a news alert to warn citizens that the tax agency does not use e-mail to contact citizens about their tax accounts. Tax officials said the fraudulent e-mail and Web site contained several grammatical errors.

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