March 18, 2008
Jefferson City, Mo. — Attorney General Jay Nixon says his office is getting consumer complaints about a familiar scam during tax time - con artists claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service, asking for personal information.
Nixon says the crooks are using e-mail and phone calls to contact consumers, claiming to be with the IRS. Consumers are asked for Social Security or bank account information, supposedly to correct problems with their tax return or to process their tax refund. Nixon says he expects some consumers will also be contacted with text messages on their cell phones.
“These crooks are at it again. Every year at this time, we see lots of phishing scammers disguised as IRS employees, trying to get people scared or excited enough to give up personal information,” Nixon said.
Nixon says legitimate organizations don’t call consumers and demand Social Security or banking numbers, so consumers should only give out that information when they have initiated the contact.
Nixon says crooks this year are also trying to take advantage of the upcoming tax rebate checks most Americans will be receiving from the IRS, due to the recent economic stimulus legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Bush. Nixon says many consumers are unclear about what they need to do to receive their rebate checks, so con artists are using phishing scams to exploit that confusion.
Consumers are receiving calls from identity thieves asking for personal information to process their rebate checks. Nixon says the IRS will not contact consumers asking for such information. Instead, consumers simply need to file a tax return in order to get any rebate owed to them.
Missourians should never divulge their personal information to anyone who calls or e-mails them. Instead, they should report the contact to Nixon’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or obtain a complaint form from his Web site, ago.mo.gov.