It’s tax season, and while that may mean you’re drowning in forms and paperwork, for scammers it means millions of taxpayers they can potentially dupe out of refunds or scare into making irrational moves. Here’s what you need to know about tax return scams and how to avoid them.
How the scams play out
In a tax return scam, a fraudster steals a taxpayer’s personal information and files a fake tax return on their behalf. The scammer will direct the refund to be deposited into the taxpayer’s checking account. After the refund is deposited, the scammer will call the victim, impersonating the IRS and claiming the refund was mistakenly inflated. They’ll instruct the victim to return the alleged extra funds via gift card or wire transfer. Of course, this money will go directly into the scammer’s pockets.
In another variation of a tax return scam, a fraudster steals a taxpayer’s personal information and files a fake tax return on their behalf, as described in the first scenario. However, instead of directing the refund to be deposited into the victim’s account, the scammer has the funds deposited into their own account. When the taxpayer tries to file a legitimate return, the IRS will inform them they’ve already filed one – and collected the refund.
Unfortunately, tax return scams are relatively easy to pull off. Scammers need only to get their hands onto a victim’s name, Social Security number and date of birth. All other information, including income and employment details, can be fabricated. Often, scammers get the information they need for the scam from employees who work at the same company as the target and are willing to sell information about their co-workers to fraudsters.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to limit your vulnerability to tax return scams. Here’s how to keep your money and your information safe this tax season:
It’s also important to be aware of the following information to help you identify possible scams:
If you’ve been targeted
If you receive a phone call or letter from someone claiming to represent the IRS and informing you that you owe tax money, you can verify the claim by calling 1-800-829-1040. Emails allegedly sent by the IRS are scams, as the IRS does not reach out to taxpayers via email.
If you haven’t received your tax refund within one month of filing, you can check your refund status on the IRS webpage. If the site shows that your refund was issued but you haven’t received it, you may be the victim of a tax return scam and identity theft. Alert the IRS at 1-800-908-4490.
Stay alert this tax season, and stay safe!
At Sooper Credit Union, we are committed to providing a website that is accessible to the widest possible audience in accordance with ADA guidelines. We are working to increase the accessibility and usability of our website for all users. If you are using a screen reader or other auxiliary aid and you encounter difficulties using the website, please contact us at (303) 427-5005 or (888) SOOPER1 for additional assistance. Products and services available on this website are available at our corporate office located at 5005 West 60th Ave Arvada, CO 80003.
You are now leaving Sooper Credit Union’s website. Although Sooper Credit Union has approved this as a reliable partner site, the linked site is not owned or controlled by the credit union. The credit union is not responsible for the availability, content, or security of the linked site. The credit union is not responsible for any claims related to any goods or services obtained from the linked site, and does not represent you or the third-party in transactions conducted via this linked website. The linked site’s privacy policies may differ from those of the credit union and the credit union is not responsible for compliance with those policies.OK Cancel