New Tax Scam Deposits Refunds In Your Bank Account

tax scam

I have to say, it’s difficult keeping up with the criminal mind!

Just when you thought you’d heard of every tax scam imaginable, another one pops up. And this one is trickier, smarter and more dangerous than ever!

The IRS just issued an alert to watch for unexpected IRS refunds being deposited into your personal bank account. Yes, the scammers now have real bank account information and they have erroneous refunds deposited into those real accounts.

Here’s how it works.

Thieves use phishing and other schemes to steal client data from tax professionals. Then, using that information, they file fraudulent tax returns and use the taxpayers’ real bank accounts to deposit erroneous tax refunds. Finally, after the refunds are deposited, the thieves, posing as IRS or other law enforcement, call attention to the error and ask taxpayers to return the money to them.

You may wonder why the thieves would go to such lengths. The answer is that they are smart. They know it is more difficult to identify and halt fraudulent tax returns when they are using real client data such as income, dependents, credits, and deductions. It’s also harder to track when criminals can find alternative ways to get the fraudulent refunds delivered directly to themselves by the taxpayers. The days of stealing checks out of mailboxes are over.

How The Thieves Get Taxpayers To Turn Over The Refund

Of course, once the IRS deposits the refund into the real bank account, the thieves then have to get the account holder to send the money to them. This is where a little bit of knowledge can really help if you’ve been the victim of this particular scam.

The thieves use various tactics. In one version, criminals posing as debt collection agency officials acting on behalf of the IRS reach out to taxpayers to say a refund was deposited in error, and ask the taxpayers to forward the money to their collection agency.

In another version, taxpayers who receive an erroneous tax refund receive an automated call with a recorded voice claiming to be from IRS. The caller threatens taxpayers with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant and a “blacklisting” of their Social Security number. The recorded voice then gives the taxpayer a case number and a telephone number to call to return the refund.

The IRS Is Non-Threatening

Remember, the IRS does not use threats nor threatening tones or language with taxpayers. The IRS also does not initiate contact with taxpayers by phone or email. They only use snail mail and official letterhead. So, keep your wits about you should you get any calls or messages from anyone claiming to be an IRS representative.

The IRS recommends you follow the directions below if you are the recipient of an erroneous tax refund.

1. Contact the Automated Clearing House (ACH) department of the bank/financial institution where the direct deposit was received and have them return the refund to the IRS.
2. Call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 (individual) or 800-829-4933 (business) to explain why the direct deposit is being returned.
3. Keep in mind interest may accrue on the erroneous refund.