Tax refund scams are back

Tax refund scams are back

Income tax scams are nothing new, but the latest one has a new twist and includes multiple phases1:

  1. A criminal steals taxpayer information, usually by tricking a tax preparer into clicking a phishing link that installs malware that gathers data2.
  2. Here’s the tricky part: you get an actual refund. Using the taxpayer’s (i.e., victim’s) real data, the criminal files a tax return – the refund is either mailed as a paper check to the taxpayer’s address or electronically deposited into the taxpayer’s real bank account.
  3. The victim receives a call (either an automated recording or a live person) claiming to be from the IRS or a debt collection agency working for the IRS.  The victim is told that the refund was made in error and needs to be returned, per instructions given over the phone. The victim thinks the money is being sent back to the IRS, but it’s actually going to a scammer.

Here’s how to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:

  • Filing early is the most important step to avoid becoming the victim of any tax scam, according to this Tax Time Tip Sheet from the National Cybersecurity Alliance and the Identity Theft Resource Center. Since the IRS accepts one tax return for each Social Security Number, you would ideally file yours before a criminal has the chance to submit a return with your information.
  • Never follow instructions provided over the phone or via email, even if the person claims to be from the IRS.  If you receive a refund but haven’t filed taxes yet, then follow the IRS’ online instructions for how to return an erroneous refund – paper check or direct deposit.
  • Call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 if you have questions about your tax refund or believe you’ve been the victim of a scam.

For details on other types of tax scams and how to identify/avoid them, see the three-part series we ran last year:
Tax Scams, Part 1: Vishing (Voice Phishing) for Personal Info or Money

Tax Scams, Part 2: Phishy Tales from the IRS

Tax Scams, Part 3: Enter the New Villain…Snail Mail

Additional Resources

Identity Theft Resource Center

Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection and Victim Assistance (IRS.gov)

How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door (IRS.gov)

References

  1. IRS Issues Urgent Warning On New Tax Refund Scam – And It’s Not What You’d Expect (Forbes)
  2. Scam Alert: IRS Urges Taxpayers to Watch Out for Erroneous Refunds; Beware of Fake Calls to Return Money to a Collection Agency (IRS.gov)
Inspiring new Movies on Demand

Inspiring new Movies on Demand

BendBroadband’s Movies On Demand serving up two of the most inspiring films of 2017—the heartwarming family drama “Wonder” and the intense fire-fighting thriller “Only the Brave.” Both are outstanding films for the whole family. For those in the mood for something a bit different, “The Florida Project” and “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” feature Academy Award-nominated… Continue Reading

The PyeongChang Winter Olympics kick off

The PyeongChang Winter Olympics kick off

The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics have begun. These Olympics will have the most live coverage of any Winter Olympics ever. Here in Bend, we are cheering on three local residents competing for Team USA and one who will represent Australia. Good luck to Tommy Ford and Laurenne Ross in alpine skiing, Ben Ferguson in snowboarding… Continue Reading

Olympic Bound: Kent Callister

Kent Callister, a local snowboarder who grew up riding Mt Bachelor, will be representing his home country of Australia in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Kent grew up in the United States, but his family is linked to one of Australia’s products — the Vegemite. Before he headed out to South Korea,… Continue Reading

The Olympic Channel to showcase unlikely athletes at Winter Olympics

The Olympic Channel to showcase unlikely athletes at Winter Olympics

The Olympic Channel debuts its original documentary series, Far From Home, this week with stories behind some of the most unlikely athletes at the Winter Games. You can find The Olympic Channel in Bend on channel 49 (SD) and channel 649 (HD) in Preferred where you can choose from thousands of videos. Far from Home stories include… Continue Reading

Introducing Our New 30-Day Money Back Guarantee

Introducing Our New 30-Day Money Back Guarantee

Big things are happening at BendBroadband: We’re kicking off our new 30-Day Money Back Guarantee on Internet, TV and phone service. Good news! This guarantee is available to both brand new customers and current customers who add a new core service to their package. We’re doing this because we’re sure you’ll love our services. Why… Continue Reading

See Patrick Lamb on Valentine’s Day

See Patrick Lamb on Valentine’s Day

Plan ahead for Valentine’s Day this year and attend the Sunriver Music Festival’s Valentine’s Day Dinner and Concert on Feb. 14, 5:30 p.m. at the Sunriver Resort Historic Great Hall. Sponsored by BendBroadband, the show features saxophonist Patrick Lamb, a festival favorite, who knows how to get a crowd on its feet. Join us for the… Continue Reading