Here we are again, scammers have found new ways to take advantage of you by stealing your information and money through fake tax filing and fake tax return deposits.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scammers are now filing a fake tax return and depositing the funds into your bank account. Once the money has been deposited into your bank account, they will reach out to you, most of the time by phone, and pretend to be a debt collector for the IRS or an IRS employee. They will then demand you return the money back to the IRS and provide instructions for doing so, but in reality, the instructions will guide the money directly to the scammer’s bank account.
In a slight variation, scammers may also reach out, after you receive the erroneous refund, and threaten you with fraud charges, an arrest warrant or to “blacklist” your social security number. In an effort to add further credibility to the story, they will provide you with a case number and telephone number to call to return the refund.
As always, it is best to ask questions and research what you are being told before acting on anything. If you, or someone you know, gets a sudden refund that you didn’t expect, please follow the tips provided by the IRS to properly return the funds.
The FTC has also provided information on how to properly prevent tax identity theft (click here for more):
- File your taxes as early as possible.
- Be sure to take advantage of a secure internet connection. Don’t use a public internet.
- Submitting your taxes online? Pay attention to see if the url has an “s” next to the http. The “s” ensures the site uses encryption and is secure to use.
- Using a tax professional? Look for their tax preparer identification number. This number is required for all paid tax preparers.
- Check the security policies used by your tax preparer, including how they properly protect your information.
- If the IRS sends you information in the mail, respond to this information as quickly as possible.
- If you have fallen victim to tax identity theft, report the information to identitytheft.gov to gain access to a recover plan.
If you locate a scam, report it to BBB ScamTracker and to the FTC, here.