The final batch of economic stimulus payment checks was sent out last Friday and should be arriving in Iowans’ mailboxes this week. Christopher Miller, a spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service, says those payments are being accompanied by another round of rip-off attempts.

"Be on the lookout for a new wave of scams that use the I-R-S logo as a lure to steal your identity," Miller says. During May and June, he says taxpayers nationwide reported some 700 separate "phishing" incidents to the IRS and 1,600 so far this year.

"We want you to take steps to keep your personal information out of the hands of these identity crooks," Miller says. "That includes not falling for any of the phony e-mails, or currently faxes, that are now in circulation, pretending to come from the I-R-S." The refund scam comes in several variations, including an e-mail that claims to come from the I-R-S and falsely says the recipient is eligible for a tax refund for a specific amount.

Miller says: "The most common scams consist of e-mails and they request detailed personal information. Most often, they promise tax refunds and this year, they’re promising a faster economic stimulus payment." He says filing a tax return is the only way to apply for a tax refund and there is no separate application form.

"Remember, the I-R-S doesn’t send out unsolicited e-mails to taxpayers and we never ask for security-related personal information like PINs or credit card numbers over the Internet," Miller says. "If you get a call from someone who claims to be with the I-R-S, either by telephone or over the Internet, it’s not us, it’s a scam."

If you get a bogus e-mail that claims to be from the agency, forward it to [email protected]