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Posted March 5, 2021

Tax season comes every year and with it comes a new round of scammers trying to get money and information from you.

This year, the IRS is warning consumers of these popular scams.

“Tax Transcript” Email Scam

Scammers are posing as financial institutions or “IRS Online” and sending documents via email with “Tax Account Transcript” as the subject line or document title. When the consumer opens the email or attachment, malware can spread, which is especially harmful for businesses.

The IRS won’t send unsolicited emails, especially with sensitive information or documents. Avoid opening the email, but if you do so accidentally, forward the scam email to [email protected]

Tax Refund Scam

The tax refund scam involves thieves using phishing or infecting computers to gain access to tax return data for thousands of filers. They then use this information to file refund claims on behalf of the victim.

Once the refund has been deposited or a check has been sent, the scammer reaches out (usually by phone) to the victim posing as an IRS or collection agent demanding the money be returned. They may also use a recorded call threatening the victim if they do not return the money.

If you think you’re a victim of this particular scam, it’s important to act quickly.

If you receive an unexpected tax refund via direct deposit:

  • Immediately call us (512.302.6800) or your financial institution to have the funds returned to the IRS and to close or flag the account because of fraud
  • Call the IRS at 800.829.1040 to let them know why the refund is being returned

If you receive a paper check and have NOT cashed it:

  • Write VOID in the endorsement section on the back of the check
  • Include a note with your returned check stating “Return of erroneous refund check because (give brief explanation of the reason for returning the refund check).”
  • Submit the check to the appropriate IRS location (look at the bottom text line in front of the words “TAX REFUND” on your refund check)

If you receive a paper check and have cashed it:

  • Write a check, money order, etc. and send to the appropriate IRS location
  • If you no longer have access to a copy of the check, call the IRS at 800.829.1040 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
  • Include a brief description as to why you are returning the refund 
Threatening Calls and Emails

The second scam involves scammers calling consumers pretending to be IRS or collection agents. They call demanding immediate payment for a supposed tax bill and usually ask for a specific payment method such as prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or wire transfer.

They’re also sending emails to personal and business accounts appearing to be the IRS. The email will ask you to click an attachment or link and then will install malicious software.

It’s important to remember that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via email, text, or social media. They will also not call to demand immediate payment. They will also not threaten to bring in police or other law-enforcement to have you arrested. Here are more tips to know if it’s really the IRS.

If you think you are a victim of tax-related identity theft or scam, click here for more recommendations and steps to take from the IRS.