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The IRS Is Warning Taxpayers About a New Scam—Here’s What to Do About It

If an unexpected windfall from the IRS lands in your bank account before Tax Day, don’t count yourself lucky. It’s not a convenient new tax break, but a scam by identity theft experts hoping to collect fraudulent tax refunds.

Here’s how it works, according to WIRED: First, you’ll notice a sudden influx of cash in your bank account courtesy of the IRS. Clearly, the deposit is a mistake—you haven’t even started filing your taxes yet. But it’s not a clerical error. Someone has stolen your identity and filed taxes on your behalf, eager to reap the rewards from the IRS. Soon after the funds are deposited, you’ll get a call demanding the money back. A scammer will pose as someone from a collection agency linked with the IRS, demanding the money back. In some cases, people receive robocalls saying they could be arrested if they don’t return the money ASAP—to the scammers’ “collection agency,” that is.

It’s a clever scheme because the money is, in fact, in your account, and since you know it isn’t the refund you filed for, it’s easy to convince you that you need to give the money back. But obviously, you don’t want to send it to your scammer.

The IRS has issued several warnings about the scam, asking financial professionals to watch out for phishing attacks and, in general, to beef up their security procedures. The agency traced the scam back to hackers stealing data from the computers of tax professionals, giving them access to the personal information necessary to file fraudulent tax returns.

MentalFloss, excerpt posted on SouthFloridaReporter.com, Feb. 28, 2018