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Mo. taxpayers hit by phone, e-mail scams

Saturday, February 2, 2008

IRS would never make either type of contact

JEFFERSON CITY -- During tax season, Missouri residents are reporting being hit by telephone and e-mail scams.

In the telephone scam, the "callers" are falsely identify themselves as being with the "Revenue Department," so they can obtain sensitive financial information from taxpayers, according to a news release from the Missouri Department of Revenue.

The callers are asking for customers' routing number, and claim they are processing the previous year's refund owed to the customer. According to the news release, the Missouri Department of Revenue would never call individual taxpayers requesting personal bank account routing numbers or credit card numbers to process an income tax refund. This information should only be provided if a resident initiates the contact.

"Missourians need to be cautious if asked to give out their personal financial information over the phone by something claiming to be from the Department of Revenue," said Gov. Matt Blunt. "I have urged the Department to continue doing all it can to inform Missourians about this scam to protect taxpayers from fraud and identity theft."

Omar Davis, Director of Revenue, said he is concerned the scam could threaten taxpayers' security. "These types of scam calls happen around this time of year, and we want Missourians to be cautious before giving out any financial information over the phone in a call they did not initiate."

The Department has contacted law enforcement in states where the calls originated to seek assistance. If someone receives this type of call, they should not divulge any information.

Inquiries from consumers should be directed to consmer@ago.mo.gov or 800-392-8222.

Also reported by U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson is a Web scam, in which citizens receive messages with IRS logos that look legitimate and direct recipients to another WebSite, where they are asked for their Social Security and bank account or ATM numbers.

"Not only would the IRS never ask for this information by e-mail, it's never a good idea to submit this kind of personal information over the Internet unless you are 100 percent sure you are dealing with a legitimate person on the other end," she said. "Identity theft is a very serious problem that can cause financial damage and ruin your credit, so please be wary of scams like this one."

She urged that anyone who receives such a suspicious e-mail can forward it to the IRS for investigation to phishing@irs.gov.