Common Cents with BBB – Fraudulent Tax Refunds

News

It seems this time of year, the only thing more certain than taxes are the tax *scams*. The Internal Revenue Service recently came out with a warning about a quickly growing scam: fake refunds being directly deposited into taxpayers’ bank accounts.

What got this scam started?

The IRS says hackers stole client data from tax professionals and began filing fraudulent tax returns, using the taxpayers’ real bank accounts for the deposit. Thieves are then using various tactics to reclaim the refund from the taxpayers.

There are apparently differently versions of this scam, what are they?

1. In one version 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.

2. In another version, 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. The recorded voice gives the taxpayer a case number and a telephone number to call to return the refund.

What advice do you have for someone who received an erroneous refund?

Whether you received a fraudulent direct deposit or a check, immediately go to IRS.gov. It has specific steps you can take. It also has steps you can take if you deposited the fake check.

This is just one variation of tax scams that appear around this time. What tips do you have to avoid becoming a victim of any kind of tax scam?

· Hang up the phone. The IRS will never contact you by phone. If they do contact you, it will be my U.S. Mail.

· Stay calm. Scammers try to play of the fears of their victims by using threatening language. Resist the urge to act quickly if threats are made.

· Never give out personal information. Never give out personal or financial information such as Social Security number, financial information, credit card information or any passwords.

Any other information?

Remember, if you are a victim of this scam, report it to the IRS and at BBB.org/scamtracker

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