updated 4/30/2004 3:58:07 PM ET 2004-04-30T19:58:07

The Internal Revenue Service on Friday warned consumers about an identity theft operation that tries to elicit personal information from taxpayers by sending e-mails alleging they're the subject of a tax investigation.

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Neither the Treasury Department nor the Internal Revenue Service send e-mails to taxpayers about issues related to their accounts.

The official-looking e-mail tells recipients they can dispute the tax fraud charge by logging onto a web site and providing detailed personal information like Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and driver's license numbers.

Identity thieves use individuals' personal data to create false identification documents, to purchase goods and to apply for loans, credit cards or other services in the victim's name.

The Internet service provider that hosted the fraudulent web site shut it down at the request of the Treasury Department's inspector general for taxes. The IRS warns that new versions could surface.

Taxpayers who receive suspect e-mails should call the Treasury Department toll-free fraud hot line at 1-800-366-4484, or the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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