DALLAS – Don’t be fooled if you get an uninvited email that appears to be from the Internal Revenue Service about your tax return or refund.

It’s coming from Internet thieves looking to steal your personal information, like credit card or bank account numbers.

The IRS receives thousands of reports each year from taxpayers who receive suspicious emails, phone calls, faxes or notices claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. Many of these scams fraudulently use the Internal Revenue Service name or logo as a lure to make the communication more authentic and enticing. The goal of these scams – known as phishing – is to trick you into revealing personal and financial information. However, the IRS does not initiate communication with taxpayers through email.

“Folks have tax refunds on their minds – particularly this time of year – and that could be handy for con artists,” said Clay Sanford, a Dallas IRS spokesman. “Don’t get hooked by an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, because we don’t send them no matter how official they may seem.”

The IRS advises not to reply to such messages and don’t click on any links or attachments – as they may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.

Those who receive such an email can simply delete it – or they can forward it to the IRS, at phishing@irs.gov.

“If you receive a phone call, fax or letter in the mail from an individual claiming to be from the IRS but you suspect they are not an IRS employee, contact us at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate need to contact you,” Sanford said.

“Normally, you would respond to an authentic IRS query in writing or by phone by calling the number listed on a paper IRS notice that you received by U. S. mail,” he said.