do not open this email if you get it...

If You Get This E-Mail, Delete It ASAP

If You Get This E-Mail, Delete It ASAP

It’s called phishing. An e-mail that purports to be from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is the newest shady way electronic criminals are trying to steal your identity without you realizing quite what you have done. Just as American taxpayers are focusing on those 1040 forms, come these fraudulent e-mails from such legitimate-looking addresses as tax-refunds@irs.gov or admin@irs.gov that send unsuspecting recipients to a look-alike IRS Web site where they are asked to reveal sensitive financial information.

The IRS, which only contacts taxpayers by telephone or postal mail, began sounding the alarm in late 2005. “We’ve seen a real uptick in the number of e-mail-type scams,” Nancy Mathis, an IRS spokesperson, told the IDG News Service. “In late January and early February, there was an explosion of these things.” So much so that phishing is now in the annual “dirty dozen” list of tax scams.

Why doesn’t the IRS just shut the scammers down? Many, if not all of them, are operating in foreign countries, making it difficult to catch them and close their operations. So far, the IRS has confirmed that 12 Web sites in 18 different countries have hosted variations of this scam, notes IDG News. If you question the legitimacy of any kind of IRS communication, call the agency’s toll-free telephone number: (800) 829-1040.