Where’s My Refund?
You’ve filed your taxes and now wait eagerly, if not desperately, for the IRS to process your refund and get it to you. So when the IRS, or someone claiming to be them, calls you on the phone and wants to help you get that refund as quickly as possible you weigh caution with greed and fork over the information requested: your complete name, social security number, date of birth, bank account or credit card number, and sometimes a pin number.
You rationalize it is just that they need to identify that it is really you and they need to know which account to send it to, so you can get it faster than through the mail (aren’t they thoughtful); after all, that is what they tell you, and you sure don’t want to have to wait any longer or for anyone else to get your money, right?
Or maybe they contacted you by email, the IRS symbol on the email assuring you it was legit, so you opened it and provided the information requested.
You’ve just been scammed!
The IRS does not ask tax payers for their social security number or bank and credit card information via the email or the telephone. They already have that information; it is on your tax return in front of them. In fact, they don’t communicate in those ways at all if they have a concern. They send a letter.
But if you are a non-resident alien, you should be aware that criminals are now targeting you…via mail. They have duplicated the IRS logo onto stationary which also requests the same personal information (complete name, bank account information, etc.) that they seek from residents.
The increase in these types of criminal attempts – to gain taxpayer identification information from phone, email and letter – has resulted in the IRS creating a special unit to handle consumer complaints about these types of violations, and they are trying to get the word out that they won’t be calling or emailing you to request this information…ever.
Contacting the IRS for help:
Online you can communicate directly with the IRS specialized unit by going to http://www.irs.gov, and under the category Newsroom Topics, click on Phishing and ID Theft. This will take you to a more detailed page chock full of helpful information and a breakdown list of all the current scams to watch out for right now, as well as links to report identity theft or scam attempts.
If you haven’t fallen for such a scam you can still benefit from keeping abreast of the latest updates on this website pages Recent Schemes category. Who knows what criminals will think up next? It pays to stay one step ahead of them by knowing what the latest trick of their trade is.