The Internal Revenue Service warns taxpayers of a new twist on an old scam in which criminals’ steal client data from tax professionals, file fraudulent tax returns and deposit the erroneous refund into the taxpayers’ real bank account. They will then use a variety of tactics to reclaim the refund from the taxpayer. There are currently two versions of the scam.
Criminals posing as debt collection agency officials acting on behalf of the IRS contacted the taxpayers to say a refund was deposited in error, and they asked the taxpayers to forward the money to their collection agency.
The taxpayer who received the erroneous refund gets an automated call with a recorded voice saying he is from the IRS and threatens the taxpayer with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant and a “blacklisting” of their Social Security Number. The recorded voice gives the taxpayer a case number and a telephone number to call to return the refund.
What should you do if you received an erroneous refund?
The IRS urges taxpayers to follow established procedures for returning an erroneous refund to the agency. The IRS also encourages taxpayers to discuss the issue with their financial institutions because there may be a need to close bank accounts. Taxpayers receiving erroneous refunds also should contact their tax preparers immediately.
Remember, the IRS will never
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will we call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
The professionals in our office are closely monitoring this evolving scam, we will keep you apprised.