We’ve heard of the IRS scam before, maybe you have actually received dozens of warnings.
First, there was the scam that involved someone calling and claiming they were from the Internal Revenue Service and you owed the government money and you needed to pay right away.
Last year, we heard about a second scam –. that crooks who had stolen personal information were actually filing fake tax returns in an effort to get the refunds.
Now there is this scam which was reported just a few week ago: scammers who have stolen information are using it to file fake returns and or hacking into tax preparers’ computers.
The result is that more than a social security number is being used.
If you were to become a victim, your electronic banking information and address would be used on the return. The refund would be mailed to your home or deposited directly into your bank account.
“This is a particularly nasty scam, ” says Pete Lang from Lang Capital in Bluffton. He is an investment advisor who specializes in taxes. “They’re (the crooks) are depositing the money in your bank account and then they are calling you and trying to convince you to send them the money.”
That’s right. The crooks who have filed the fake return now have the audacity to call you and say it’s a mistake and you have to return the money.
Of course, if you do, you’re giving it to the con man, not the Internal Revenue Service. “It’s absolutely scary and it’s a good way to lose some money,” says Lang.
Lang believes the big data breach at Equifax (with tens of millions of names) and even the one at the State of South Carolina (with about four million names) is helping scammers get information.
“So these are how they understand who we are and how to file these fake returns and then there’s money out there so they’re using this and they’re using different ways and it’s constantly evolving so you’ve got to be on guard no doubt about it,” says Lang.
The IRS warns if you do get a refund but haven’t even filed your taxes that the next step is a phone call from the con artist. Lang advises “just hang up as your first line of defense.”
If you do find yourself with an unexpected refund, Lang says to call a professional or the IRS.
“I think your first stop is your CPA or your accountant and then you can telephone the IRS directly,” he told us. “They’ve got a line and they’ve got some good guidance as to what to do if you get a large refund check you’re not entitled to.”
The IRS hotline is 1-800-829-1040.