Scam artists are now defrauding taxpayers by first putting money into their bank accounts – before taking it out.
It sounds crazy, but it’s true. The IRS is reporting an increasing number of scams involving fraudulent tax refunds. The scam is multi-tiered with scam artists first obtaining their victims’ personal identity and bank account information – usually through email phishing scams.
After stealing taxpayers’ data, they will use various tactics to then steal money. But first, they will make an actual deposit in the victims’ bank account.
In one version of the scam, criminals will pose as debt collection agency officials acting on behalf of the IRS. They will contact the taxpayers to say a refund was deposited in error, and 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.
Phishing scams aren’t the only way these criminals are obtaining their victims’ personal identification. It is highly likely that many of the victims are those caught up in the Equifax hack from last year. It was recently reported that much more personal data was compromised in the hack than originally announced, including tax identification numbers and driver’s license numbers – two of the identifiers the IRS uses to verify e-file submissions.
For your protection, please utilize and ensure that your information is being transmitted to our office via the secure methods that we have set up for you. Your personal information is very important to us and we deploy many methods to ensure its confidentiality. When sending us your information use our portal at https://antarescpas.sharefile.com. Email is very insecure and we train our employees to avoid using email as a means to transmit or discuss information that could include your personal details.
However, if you believe you have been compromised or have received suspicious correspondence regarding an alleged tax refund or tax liability, please call us immediately.