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IRS Warns Taxpayers of New Scam Targeting Refunds

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a warning to taxpayers about a new, sophisticated scam that’s specifically designed to trick individuals into believing they are owed a refund.

Scammers are using fake emails, phone calls, and text messages to contact potential victims. Communications often appear authentic, using official-looking logos and language to mimic IRS correspondence. The scammer may claim that the recipient is entitled to a substantial tax refund and requests personal and financial information to process the payment.

Predictably, the fraudster will ask for sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, bank account details, and credit card numbers, claiming that they need these to complete the refund transaction. Some victims have even reported being directed to a fraudulent website that looks like the official IRS site to enter their information.

The IRS has emphasized that it does not initiate contact with taxpayers via email, text messages, or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Any such contact should be viewed with extreme caution.

To report a suspicious email or phone call, the IRS urges taxpayers to forward the email to phishing@irs.gov or call the IRS helpline.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
The IRS has provided some guidance to help individuals recognize and avoid falling victim to this scam:

  1. Be Skeptical: If you receive an unsolicited email or call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, be wary.
  2. Verify the Information: Contact the IRS directly using the official website or phone number to confirm any claims about refunds.
  3. Do Not Share Personal Information: Never give out personal or financial information over email, text, or a call unless you are certain about the recipient’s identity.
  4. Use Security Software: Keep your computer and mobile devices protected with up-to-date security software.
  5. Report Suspicious Activity: If you receive a suspicious email or phone call, report it to the IRS using the above-mentioned channels.

This new scam highlights the ever-evolving tactics of fraudsters and the importance of remaining vigilant. By following the guidelines provided by the IRS and exercising caution with unsolicited communications, taxpayers can protect themselves from falling victim to this and other similar schemes.

Additionally on July 24, 2023, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it will no longer conduct unannounced visits by revenue officers to taxpayers’ homes or businesses. This change comes after widespread concerns about the anxiety and confusion such visits can create.

While these visits were aimed at ensuring compliance with tax laws, they often sparked complaints and fears, especially among vulnerable populations. Concerns were raised about the potential for impersonation by scammers and the lack of preparation time for taxpayers to gather necessary information.

Under the new policy, revenue officers will be required to make initial contact with taxpayers through a mailed notice or by phone. This approach will provide taxpayers with time to verify the officer’s identity and prepare for the meeting.

Taxpayers are encouraged to visit the official IRS website for more information and updates on this and other potential threats.

Article by Matthew John McNally, Managing Partner

Matthew John McNally
Matthew is an enrolled agent with two decades of tax planning, compliance, and advisory experience, much of it at Big Four accounting firms, where he guided clients with wide-reaching financial concerns.