We are taking a small break in the tax reform blogs to let you know that the IRS has issued an alert on a growing trend in scams aimed at taxpayers. Here is how the scam works – and keep reading, because there are different versions.
After stealing taxpayer data and filing fraudulent returns, the criminals use the real bank accounts of the taxpayers to make a direct deposit of the fraudulent refund.
Here are the ways the scammers are getting these fake refunds:
- The criminals pose as a debt collection agency official acting on behalf of the IRS (and, yes, the IRS is using some debt collection agencies, so that is a very plausible beginning). They call the taxpayer and say a refund was deposited in error (also true, since the actual return has not yet been filed) and ask the taxpayers to forward the money to their collection agency. However, the collection agency would not be involved if it was such a new debt, but that minor discrepancy is hard to think about when faced with that phone call.
- The taxpayer receives a robocall, claiming to be from the IRS. He threatens the taxpayer with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant and a “blacklisting” of their Social Security number. The recorded voice then gives the taxpayer a case number and telephone number to call to return the refund. Remember, the IRS will not call you.
Before you do anything about a fraudulent refund, please contact your financial institution to see if your account needs to be closed.
Here is a link to the IRS website on how to properly return an erroneous refund.
Oh, and please contact your tax professional. They can assist, as well.
Unfortunately, due to it being prime tax filing season, it is also prime ”the thieves are out in full force” season.
Donna H. Laubscher, CPA