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Thursday February 22, 2018

Washington News

Washington Hotline

Tax Filing Season Opens Door to New Scam

As the tax filing season moves into high gear, tax scammers continue to develop new strategies.

In IR-2018-27, the Service explained the latest tax scam. Because it is difficult for IRS software to discover scams using actual taxpayer data, the tax scammers have developed a new concept.

The tax scammer starts by acquiring your normal tax return information — your name, Social Security Number, typical deductions, filing status and bank account numbers. In some cases, the tax scammer steals this information by hacking into your tax preparer's computer network.

After stealing your information, the scammer files the return and claims a large refund. That refund is sent directly to your bank account.

To have a successful scam, the thief must then implement a creative plan to persuade you to send the refund to him or her. There are two basic ways the scammer will try to convince you to send him or her your refund.

First, the scammer contacts you and claims to be an IRS representative tasked to recover erroneous refunds. He or she demands that you send the money to his or her "refund recovery" account.

A second strategy is to use an automated phone call to threaten you with immediate arrest for criminal fraud because you received an improper refund. If you call the scammer's number, he or she directs you to deposit the improper refund amount in a "recovery" account.

The IRS has specific procedures to follow if you receive a phony refund. You can contact your bank Automated Clearing House (ACH) and have the amount returned to the IRS.

If you have an amount returned to the IRS, you should call the Service at 800-829-1040 (Individual Returns) or 800-829-4933 (Business Returns). In your call, you will need to explain why the refund amount is being returned.

Published February 16, 2018

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