Tax preparer and refund fraud increases

Cornelia Mascio
Febbraio 19, 2018

"It's a new twist on an old scam", wrote national tax writer Kelly Phillips Erb in Forbes.

A general view of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington May 27, 2015.

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, an arrest warrant and a "blacklisting" of their Social Security Number. After all, the taxpayer actually does have a tax refund in his or her bank account as "proof" and the caller knows the exact amount and possibly other personal details.

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.

With the start of tax season, scammers claiming to be IRS agents or collections personnel are showing up across Pennsylvania and trying to steal whatever they can.

The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers of a quickly growing scam involving erroneous tax refunds being deposited into their bank accounts.

The IRS's website repeats that it is increasingly important for taxpayers to realize that the IRS will never initiate communication by calling taxpayers, emailing them, or contacting them via social media.

The IRS outlined a step-by-step guide [on its website] to follow if an erroneous refund is found. The recorded voice gives the taxpayer a case number and a phone number to call to return the refund.

With so many Social Security numbers hacked a year ago, most taxpayers are on high alert to make sure cyber-crooks don't misdirect their tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service.

This week, the agency issued a second notice to tax preparers, urging them to notify law enforcement and their clients as soon as they discover a data breach. If a paper check was sent and not cashed, the IRS advises taxpayers to write "void" in the endorsement section on the back of the check and submit it to the appropriate IRS location, given here.

Call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 (individual) or 800-829-4933 (business) to explain why the direct deposit is being returned.

Submit the check immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.

Here are the official ways to return an erroneous refund to the IRS.

Don't staple, bend, or paper clip the check.

Include a note stating, "Return of erroneous refund check because (and give a brief explanation of the reason for returning the refund check)".

Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the refund.

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