The IRS is seeing an emergence of a new scam this filing season. This new scam involves the filing of fraudulent returns using taxpayers’ real information such as income, dependents, credits, deductions and actual taxpayer bank account information.

Once the refund from the fraudulent return is directly deposited into the taxpayer’s account, the scammer, posing as a debt collection official, calls the taxpayer and requests the erroneous refund to be forwarded to them.

What to watch out for:

Taxpayers should be alert to unusual activity such as receiving unrequested tax transcripts or unexpected tax refunds.

If the IRS adjusts your refund amount, a notice explaining the adjustment will be mailed. If you receive a refund that does not match the amount expected, or receive a refund before filing your return, steps should be taken to return the refund to the IRS via the proper channels immediately. Please note that interest may accrue on the erroneous refund until it is returned.

Taxpayers should also be on guard against phishing emails that contain links or attachments which may contain malware used to steal tax data. Never open an attachment, or click on a link within an email that was sent by an unknown person or from a source you do not know.

What you should do if you receive an unexpected tax refund:

By Direct Deposit:

Contact the Automated Clearing House (ACH) department of the bank where the direct deposit was received and have them return it to the IRS. Then call the IRS at 800-829-1040 (individual) or 800-829-4933 (business) to explain why the refund is being returned.

By Paper check:

The erroneous refund should be sent back to the IRS, by mail, immediately, but no later than 21 days after receipt. Search the IRS website for “erroneous refund”, see, or contact us for more information on how to return it and where to mail the check.

Remember, the IRS will never call requesting payment. If you receive a call like this, do not provide personal information.

Don’t hesitate to contact our office, if you have any questions about erroneous refunds and IRS notices or letters received in the mail or otherwise.

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