This year’s tax scam has been traced to infected tax preparer’s computers, where fake returns are sent to the IRS claiming refunds. The information provided on the false returns has the accurate information of the taxpayer, including dependent data and bank account information.
The scammers then pose as IRS agents and contact the taxpayer to inform them of the fake refund and ask them to turn over the checks or direct deposit funds to a debt collection firm owned by the scammers.
What is unclear and has not been answered by the IRS is how the fake refunds started showing up in taxpayer’s bank accounts as soon as January 30th when the IRS did not start accepting returns until January 29th. This is leading some tax preparers to question whether the scammers have been getting help from dishonest IRS workers. The IRS has denied the allegations.
If you receive a refund that you did not expect, the IRS says to write VOID on the check and return it to a regional IRS office or in the case of a direct deposit call the toll-free number (800) 829-1040 for instructions and close the bank account.