Cook County sheriff warns of fake IRS agent phone scam

IRS warns of new scam around wrong tax refund deposits

In the former case, the first inkling that a taxpayer would get that they were victimized is when their electronically filed return gets rejected as a duplicate.

A victim of such scams who sees an erroneous refund appear in his account should contact his tax preparer immediately, the IRS said.

Doubling down on an earlier warning, the Tuesday advisory alerted individuals that "more tax practitioners' computer files have been breached". The update went out after officials saw a few hundred cases of the scam grow to several thousand cases in a few days. The IRS's Criminal Investigation division is continuing to investigate the expanding scope and breadth of this scheme. But in a sign of how seriously it's taking the scam, the agency on Tuesday issued a second notice to tax preparers urging them to notify the agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, local police and their clients as soon as they discover a data breach. The return uses false information to qualify and claim a tax refund.

According to the IRS, the fraudsters then use different tricks to con taxpayers into turning over the funds.

The scam is continuing to evolve in new versions. In one version of the scam, a live agent calls the taxpayer posing as a debt collector, who tells the taxpayers that the fraudulent refund money should be sent to the debt collection firm. They contact taxpayers to say a refund was deposited in error, and ask them to forward the money to their collection agency. The recording then provides a phone number for the victim to call to return the erroneous refund.

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Do not give out personal information over the phone.

Since tax ID theft peaked in 2013, the IRS has taken a host of steps, including forming a security partnership with preparers and software companies, to stamp out tax return fraud. Also, he also should talk with his bank or other financial institution where the account is because the account may need to be closed.

Also it is harder to track when criminals can find alternative ways to get the fraudulent refunds delivered to themselves rather than the real taxpayers.

If you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes, call local law enforcement or report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.

The agency said it has already received a number of fake tax returns that had accurate taxpayer names, addresses, Social Security numbers and even bank account information for the victims. By law, the IRS noted, interest may accrue on erroneous refunds.

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