This time of year, the only thing more certain than taxes are tax scams. And now, according to the Internal Revenue Service, many people are being fooled by fake refunds being deposited directly into their checking account.
In many cases, this scam is the result of data being stolen by hackers from tax professionals. Once a fraudulent return is filed and money is deposited, thieves then use various tactics to reclaim the refund from honest taxpayers.
In one version of the scam, criminals posing as debt collection agency officials acting on behalf of the IRS contact the taxpayer to say a refund was deposited in error, and ask them 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 claiming to be from the IRS, threatening the taxpayer with criminal charges. The recorded voice gives the taxpayer a case number and a telephone number to call to return the refund.
According to the Better Business Bureau, those who receive an erroneous refund (either by check or direct deposit), should immediately report the error to www.IRS.gov. There, you will find specific steps to take to keep yourself out of trouble.
In order to avoid becoming a victim of this scam, the BBB recommends:
Remember, if you are a victim of this scam, report it to the IRS and to www.BBB.org/scamtracker.
Got a question for the BBB? Contact Regional Director Kelly Trevino at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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