The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) often issues warnings to help taxpayers avoid becoming the victim of the latest tax scams. These scams are serious. The IRS reports that they cost thousands of taxpayers millions of dollars. As such, it is important for taxpayers to stay up to date on the latest scams and help protect themselves and loved ones from the actions of those who are trying to steal our personal information.
What is the latest tax scam?
The new scheme involves a mailing, often in a cardboard envelope, that states the IRS is reaching out to inform the taxpayer of an “unclaimed refund.” Although the correspondence comes in the mail, which is how the IRS often communicates with taxpayers, and appears to have the IRS letterhead, the IRS states that they are not sending these mailings.
How could a taxpayer know a mailing is part of a scam?
One key red flag: the phone number and contact information does not belong to the IRS. Another, the type of personal information requested by the sender. It asks for things like pictures of a driver’s license. This is something that nefarious persons can use to help perpetuate identity theft — not something the IRS would generally need to help a taxpayer get their refund.
Additional things to watch out for that can signal the correspondence is a fraud include:
- Poor grammar. The request in this most recent scheme uses some awkward wording, odd use of punctuations, and changes in font. Examples include a request for a clear “phone” of the driver’s license and to “please try to be checking your email for response from the agents thanks.”
- Incorrect deadlines. The letter in this scam states that the refund applies to those who filed by the deadline of October 17. This is incorrect, the deadline was October 16.
- Method of correspondence. As noted above, the IRS generally reaches out by mailings. The IRS does not reach out via email, text message, or social media posts.
The IRS also encourages taxpayers to refrain from clicking on any links sent via email claiming to be from the IRS as this can be part of a phishing scam and report any suspected scams.
What if the mailing is an official correspondence?
It is important to take a mailing from the IRS seriously. It is reasonable to have questions about the process. The attorneys at Goldburd McCone are experienced in these matters and can explain the situation and help tailor a response to your situation.