A warning has been issued about a fake email which claims to be from the Inland Revenue Department telling recipients they are owed money from a tax refund.

The email, from the address tax-refund@ird.govt.nz with the subject line "Tax Refund", tells recipients they are owed $609.30 in tax, and asks them to click on the link www.ird.govt.nz/tax/refunds to receive their refunds.

They are then diverted to a website pretending to be the IRD's which asks for their credit card details.

The email ends with the incorrect name for the department - it is signed "regards, Inland Revenue Service".

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs monitors frauds and spokeswoman Kate Camp said she was not aware of calls to the ministry reporting this specific scam recently.

But she said the email followed the general formula of the most common ones and tax return scams were one of the "usual suspects".

"Why would the IRD be refunding your credit card?"

Ms Camp warned anyone who received the email, or any others like it, to ignore it and reiterated the ministry's warnings to consumers never to reveal personal bank details or passwords.

"They count on the fact that most people might not be taken in but if there's just one person ... in 10,000, that's what they're hoping for. The best thing is don't respond, don't send an email back, don't click on the link."

Contacting the person who sent the email would send a signal to fraudsters that the email address was valid which could pose further risks, she said.

"Alarm bells should be ringing when anybody asks you for your bank or credit card details like that.

"If you think it is legitimate, the best thing ... rather than clicking on the link, is to go to the IRD website yourself or ring them up yourself having looked them up in the phone book. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is and that's usually the way all scams work."

The IRD issued a warning about the fraud on its website on August 6.

A spokeswoman said yesterday: "We simply don't send people emails that offer people refunds, it's not at all the way that Inland Revenue conducts its business."