(2/11/2002) Income Tax time is once again upon us. Unfortunately, Uncle Sam is always accompanied by an entourage of hoaxes, scams and misinformation.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
FYI. Received this from official Navy sources. V/R, Buzz
Special Alert to the Public
The Michigan Department of Treasury recently received an alert from the Internal Revenue Service about a fraudulent scam being conducted via E mail that you should be on the look out for:
Some taxpayers have received an e mail from a non-IRS source indicating that the taxpayer is under audit and needs to complete a questionnaire within 48 hours to avoid The assessment of penalties and interest. The e mail refers to an "e-audit" and references IRS form 1040. The taxpayer is asked for social security numbers, bank account numbers and other confidential information. THE IRS DOES NOT CONDUCT E-AUDITS, NOR DOES IT NOTIFY TAXPAYERS OF A PENDING AUDIT VIA E MAIL. THIS E MAIL IS NOT FROM THE IRS. Do not provide the requested information - this may be an identity-theft attempt.
If you receive an e mail of this nature - the source may be the address blesstheday.com, please contact the Internal Revenue Service office in your area.
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
The Michigan Department of Treasury webmaster confirms that the notice being circulated via e-mail did originate with his office. However, they have since edited the notice to include contact information for the IRS as well as other information, so the e-mail version is outdated. The IRS has a list of the most common tax related scams here.
I tried to contact Blesstheday.com, a Christian online greeting card service, to see if they had any knowledge of scams being perpetrated in their name. Unfortunately my message to their general contact (curiously a Hotmail address) was bounced because their mailbox was full.
The risk of identity theft is real, but a randomly forwarded, outdated e-mail is definitely not the best source of information on the subject. Instead of forwarding this chain, break it by sending friends and family to the Michigan Treasury web site above.