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IRS Warns of Continued Scams, Varied Tactics as the Tax Deadline Nears

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IRS Warns of Continued Scams, Varied Tactics as the Tax Deadline Nears

IR-2016-62, April 13, 2016

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued a warning that scammers may try using the April 18 tax deadline to prey on hard-working taxpayers by impersonating the IRS and others with fake phone calls and emails. Even after the tax deadline passes, taxpayers should know the telltale signs of a scam and tips to protect themselves from a variety of phone scams and phishing emails.

"We’ve seen continuing activity in these scams throughout the filing season," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "As the tax deadline nears, these criminals may try and trick honest taxpayers over the phone or via email, and people should remain vigilant. After the tax deadline, watch out for these scammers promising a refund or threatening you with an unexpected tax bill."

These scam artists frequently masquerade as being from the IRS, a tax company and sometimes even a state revenue department. By email, they try enticing people to click on links in official-looking messages containing questions related to their "tax refund." Report these emails to phishing@irs.gov. By phone, many scammers use threats to intimidate and bully people into paying a "tax bill." They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the driver’s license of their victim if they don’t get the money.

Variations of these scams can be seen nationwide, and it’s more important than ever to be cautious with providing personal or financial information. As part of the effort to protect taxpayers, the IRS has teamed up with state revenue departments and the tax industry to make sure taxpayers understand the dangers to their personal and financial data as part of the “Taxes. Security. Together” campaign.   

Some examples of the varied tactics seen this year are:

  • Soliciting W-2 information from payroll and human resources professionals (see news release IR-2016-34)

  • “Verifying” tax return information over the phone (IR-2016-40)

  • Pretending to be from the tax preparation industry (IR-2016-28

    There are some important reminders for taxpayers nationwide about these schemes.

    Watch Out for Threatening Phone Calls

    Beware of scammers making unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email.

    Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

    The IRS Will Never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

  • 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.

    If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money and you don’t owe taxes, here’s what you should do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.

  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page or call 800-366-4484.

  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

  • If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040.

    Avoid Email Phishing Attempts

    There has been a surge in email scams this year that appear to be from a tax agency or a tax software company. 

    Never reply to emails, texts or pop-up messages asking for your personal, tax or financial information. One common trick by criminals is to impersonate a business such as your financial institution, tax software provider or the IRS, asking you to update your account and providing a link. For small business, these schemes may try impersonating a company leader and request payroll and human resource information for employees in your company. Never click on links even if they seem to be from organizations you trust. Go directly to the organization’s website.

    And if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you see an email that says "You won a free cruise" or "The IRS has a refund waiting for you," odds are high that it is a phishing attempt looking to get your personal information.

    If you get a phishing email, remember this important advice:

  • Don’t reply to the message.

  • Don’t give out your personal or financial information.

  • Forward the email to phishing@irs.gov. Then delete it.

  • Don’t open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious code that will infect your computer.

    More information on how to report phishing or phone scams is available on IRS.gov.

    Related Items:

  • www.irs.gov/identitytheft

  • Fact sheet FS-2016-1, IRS, States and Tax Industry Combat Identity Theft and Refund Fraud on Many Fronts

  • FS-2016-2, IRS, States and Tax Industry Urge Taxpayers to Join the Effort to Combat Identity Theft

  • FS-2016-3, IRS Identity Theft Victim Assistance: How It Works

  • FS-2016-4, How New Identity Security Changes May Affect Taxpayers for 2016 

     

Scam Alert

Posted by Admin Posted on Feb 21 2018

 

Scam Alert: IRS Urges Taxpayers to Watch out for Erroneous Refunds; Beware of Fake Calls to Return Money to a Collection Agency

 

The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers of a quickly growing scam involving erroneous tax refunds being deposited into their bank accounts. The IRS also offered a step-by-step explanation for how to return the funds and avoid being scammed.

 

 Following up on a Security Summit alert issued Feb. 2, the IRS issued this additional warning about the new scheme after discovering more tax practitioners’ computer files have been breached. In addition, the number of potential taxpayer victims jumped from a few hundred to several thousand in just days. The IRS Criminal Investigation division continues its investigation into the scope and breadth of this scheme.

 

 These criminals have a new twist on an old scam. After stealing client data from tax professionals and filing fraudulent tax returns, these criminals use the taxpayers' real bank accounts for the deposit.

 

 Thieves are then using various tactics to reclaim the refund from the taxpayers, and their versions of the scam may continue to evolve.

Different Versions of the Scam

 

 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.

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. The recorded voice gives the taxpayer a case number and a telephone number to call to return the refund.
As it did last week, the IRS repeated its call for tax professionals to step up security of sensitive client tax and financial files.

 

 The IRS urged taxpayers to follow established procedures for returning an erroneous refund to the agency. The IRS also encouraged 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.
Because this is a peak season for filing tax returns, taxpayers who file electronically may find that their tax return will reject because a return bearing their Social Security number is already on file. If that’s the case, taxpayers should follow the steps outlined in the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft. Taxpayers unable to file electronically should mail a paper tax return along with Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, stating they were victims of a tax preparer data breach.

 

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

Taxpayers who receive the refunds should follow the steps outlined by Tax Topic Number 161 - Returning an Erroneous Refund. The tax topic contains full details; including mailing addresses should there be a need to return paper checks. By law, interest may accrue on erroneous refunds.

 

If the erroneous refund was a direct deposit:

 

1.    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.

 

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

 

 If the erroneous refund was a paper check and hasn't been cashed:

1.    Write "Void" in the endorsement section on the back of the check.

 

2.    Submit the check immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below. The location is based on the city (possibly abbreviated) on the bottom text line in front of the words TAX REFUND on your refund check.

 

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

 

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

The erroneous refund was a paper check and you have cashed it:

Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.
 

  • If you no longer have access to a copy of the check, call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 (individual) or 800-829-4933 (business) (see telephone and local assistance for hours of operation) and explain to the IRS assistor that you need information to repay a cashed refund check.

  • Write on the check/money order: Payment of Erroneous Refund, the tax period for which the refund was issued, and your taxpayer identification number (social security number, employer identification number, or individual taxpayer identification number).

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

  • Repaying an erroneous refund in this manner may result in interest due the IRS.

     IRS mailing addresses for returning paper checks

     For your paper refund check, here are the IRS mailing addresses to use based on the city (possibly abbreviated). These cities are located on the check’s bottom text line in front of the words TAX REFUND: 

  • ANDOVER – Internal Revenue Service, 310 Lowell Street, Andover MA 01810

  • ATLANTA – Internal Revenue Service, 4800 Buford Highway, Chamblee GA 30341

  • AUSTIN – Internal Revenue Service, 3651 South Interregional Highway 35, Austin TX 78741

  • BRKHAVN – Internal Revenue Service, 5000 Corporate Ct., Holtsville NY 11742

  • CNCNATI – Internal Revenue Service, 201 West Rivercenter Blvd., Covington KY 41011

  • FRESNO – Internal Revenue Service, 5045 East Butler Avenue, Fresno CA 93727

  • KANS CY – Internal Revenue Service, 333 W. Pershing Road, Kansas City MO 64108-4302

  • MEMPHIS – Internal Revenue Service, 5333 Getwell Road, Memphis TN 38118

  • OGDEN – Internal Revenue Service, 1973 Rulon White Blvd., Ogden UT 84201

  • PHILA – Internal Revenue Service, 2970 Market St., Philadelphia PA 19104

     

 

IR-2012-86, Nov. 4, 2012

WASHINGTON — As part of the administration’s continued support for states and local partners impacted by Hurricane Sandy, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today announced that they will waive low-income housing tax credit rules that prohibit owners of low-income housing from providing housing to victims of Hurricane Sandy who do not qualify as low-income. The action will expand the availability of housing for disaster victims and their families.

Because of the widespread devastation to housing caused by Hurricane Sandy, the Treasury Department and the IRS will temporarily suspend income limitation requirements and non-transient requirements for qualified low-income housing projects that provide housing to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

The President has declared that major disasters exist in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, making federal funding available to affected individuals in designated counties through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. FEMA has also approved Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) in New York and New Jersey for eligible disaster survivors who have a continuing need for shelter because they are unable to return to their homes for an extended period of time. Individuals and business owners who sustained losses can apply for assistance from FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) via mobile device at m.fema.gov, or online at www.disasterassistance.gov.