Cybercriminals have developed a new scam in which they are taking advantage of tax season, by stealing personal data from tax professionals and filing fraudulent returns.
This is how the scam works:
- The scammers file a tax return without the victim's knowledge
- Any refund is deposited into the victim’s bank account, using bank account information and routing numbers found on prior tax returns.
- The scammers then call the victims posing as employees of the IRS or of a debt collection agency working on behalf of the IRS.
- They ask the taxpayer to take certain steps to return the refund, but the refund actually goes to the criminals.
- Varying methods of collecting the funds have been reported. In some instances, the scammers have requested that the “refund” be sent by wire. Other times, they have directed the victim to a website where the funds can be sent.
Here are some red flags to watch for:
- You receive a tax refund, but you have not filed your taxes
- Someone tells you that you need to return your tax refund “to the IRS or an agent for the IRS"
- You receive a call that your refund was incorrect and are instructed to return the funds with a wire or some other electronic transaction
- You receive a call from someone reporting they work for a collection agency and that you need to return your refund
If you think you have been the victim of such a scam, you should take the following steps:
- Notify your financial institution where fraudsters have deposited a fraudulent refund to your account or directed you to make payment from the account.
- Contact the IRS to make them aware of the situation.
More ways to secure your personal information
Our online security center provides additional actions you can take to protect yourself from financial fraud.
Donna is a Senior Loss Prevention Analyst, CFE and part of the Fraud Prevention and Investigations Department at Old National. This group is responsible for investigating and responding to bank-related fraud situations, as well as training and educating associates and clients about fraud.
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