Authorities: Beware of tax scams

Tax season is scam season for some criminals out to make an easy buck.

Scam-artists try to steal identities and drain bank accounts of unsuspecting tax filers every year, say officials working to protect consumers. Frauds send out fake e-mails, pose as IRS agents in phone calls or promise to lower taxes or expedite refunds or stimulus checks for a fee.

E-mails purportedly sent from the Internal Revenue Service landed in in-boxes across Medford this week, falsely promising stimulus payments if a form was completed.

"The IRS said they don't conduct business that way," said Detective Sgt. Kevin Walruff, head of Medford police's financial investigation section.

He said reports of such scams come every year between about this time and April.

The Better Business Bureau of Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington warns that there are hundreds of variations of tax-related scams, but many follow two themes.

In one, e-mails or phone calls come from frauds claiming to be IRS representatives and seeking Social Security numbers, bank account numbers or other personal information such as driver's license numbers. The scam-artists may claim they want to process tax refunds or fix errors.

In other cases, scammers pose as tax preparers or IRS agents and promise speedy tax refunds or tax savings if people provide personal information.

The BBB said bogus e-mails typically begin with "IRS Notification — Please Read This" or a similar urgent introduction and often contain grammatical errors or punctuation irregularities. A message ending with a generic salutation, such as "Regards, Internal Revenue Service," is a major indication that the e-mail source is fraudulent.

People who get these fake e-mails should not reply nor click on any links or attachments, the consumer protection organization said. Report the attempt by forwarding the message to, then delete it, officials said.

People also can forward suspicious e-mails to the Federal Trade Commission at or call 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338), the Better Business Bureau reported.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail

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