The IRS has released a list of the new tax scams making the rounds this year. At the top of the list to look out for is the Telephone Scam: The Sequel. Like a really bad movie sequel the scammers have come up with an unwelcome update on the Telephone Scam. In a nutshell:
- Scammers steal data from tax professionals, company HR departments, or through other means.
- File a fake return on behalf of the victim
- Have the return deposited into the victims bank account
- Call the victim posing as an IRS official, debt collection agency on behalf of the IRS. Claim a refund was deposited in error.
- The victim could receive an automated call from someone claiming to be an IRS official threatening criminal charges, arrest warrants, and to blacklist the victims social security number.
- Require victims to forward the money to their collection agency.
What is really bad about this scam is that it is partially real. The scammers really did file a fake tax return resulting in a real deposit into the victims bank account. When the victim looks they can really see the money sitting there.
Only it’s not their money and it isn’t the scammers money. The IRS has steps to return money erroneously refunded. As they warn “taxpayers may accrue interest on any erroneous refund they receive” so it is important to return the money quickly. From their site here are the steps to return a direct deposit refund:
- Contact the Automated Clearing House (ACH) department of the bank/financial institution where the direct deposit was received and have them return the refund to the IRS.
- Call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 (individual) or 800-829-4933 (business) to explain why the direct deposit is being returned.
If you got a paper check they have detailed instructions on how to return that on their page “Topic Number: 161 – Returning an Erroneous Refund – Paper Check or Direct Deposit” found here https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc161
Keep in mind that the IRS initiates contact with taxpayers by postal mail. They do not initiate contact by email, text message, social media, telephone, or door to door. If you did not receive an official letter from the IRS via regular postal mail first then it is a scam; as they discuss in this video:
Again the IRS makes first contact with taxpayers via an official letter sent through the United States Postal Service.
For more information:
Scam Alert: IRS urges taxpayers to watch our for erroneous refunds (https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/scam-alert-irs-urges-taxpayers-to-watch-out-for-erroneous-refunds-beware-of-fake-calls-to-return-money-to-a-collection-agency)