The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning taxpayers about a new scam designed to trick potential victims into believing that they are owed a refund. IRS and government impersonation scams are nothing new. In fact, Federal Trade Commission data shows that they are one of the most reported forms of fraud for years now. However, this scam stands out from the rest as it involves postal mail and is related to a refund rather than outstanding taxes.
Specifically, the impersonators are mailing cardboard envelopes containing a letter with IRS masthead and claiming to be regarding the recipient's "unclaimed refund." It then asks for multiple photos of the potential victim's driver's license and various personal information (such as a phone number, bank routing information, and a Social Security number) to receive the refund. As with other scams, the contact information provided by the fraudsters does not belong to the IRS. The personal information they are seeking allows the criminals to commit identity theft. Additionally, the letter is filled with awkward and incorrect phrasing—another common sign of fraud.
Fraud.org continues to receive complaints from consumers regarding this and other IRS impersonation schemes. For example, a consumer reported receiving a letter with a demand for over $27,000 to pay off a tax debt that did not exist. Another individual living overseas submitted a fraud report detailing a phishing website pretending to help international taxpayers resolve IRS matters.
To reduce your risk of being a victim of a government imposter scheme, keep the following tips in mind:
- Double check the legitimacy of any phone numbers, email addresses, URLs, or filing dates sent to you with the official information available on the irs.gov website.
- Typos, grammatical errors, and improper phrasing are all red flags that an incoming communication may be a scam.
- Remember that the IRS never contacts taxpayers via email, text, or social media regarding a bill or tax refund.
- Do not respond to suspected phishing attempts and do not click any weblinks that may be contained within the message.
- Report suspected fraud to fraud.org and learn more about official reporting mechanisms at the IRS here: https://www.irs.gov/privacy-disclosure/report-phishing
This article is published courtesy of Fraud.org.
If you or someone you know have been a victim of a tax scam, we urge you to report it via Fraud.org's secure online complaint form. Complaints are shared with Fraud.org's network of consumer protection and law enforcement partners who use complaints to identify trends and build cases.