The Internal Revenue Service warned taxpayers this week to beware of a new tax refund scam involving erroneous tax refunds being deposited in taxpayer bank accounts.

If you have fallen victim to this scam, the IRS provides taxpayers with a step-by-step explanation for how you can return the funds and avoid falling prey to the scammers. See Tax Topic Number 161 – Returning an Erroneous Refund.

Basically this is a new twist on an old scam, the IRS noted. After the cybercriminals steal data and file fraudulent tax returns, they use the taxpayers’ real bank accounts for the deposit. Thieves then employ various tactics to reclaim the refund from taxpayers.

The scam is continuing to evolve in new versions. In one version, the criminals impersonate debt collection agency officials acting on behalf of the IRS. They contact taxpayers to tell them a tax refund was deposited in error and ask taxpayers to send the money to their collection agency.

In another version, the taxpayer who received the erroneous refund also receives an automated phone call with a recorded voice, allegedly from the IRS. The recording threatens the taxpayer with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant and a “blacklisting” of their Social Security Number. The recorded voice provides the taxpayer with a case number and a phone number to call to give back the mistaken refund.

The IRS is also asking taxpayers to follow the established procedures for returning an erroneous refund, as discussed in Tax Topic Number 161. The IRS wants taxpayers to discuss the issue with their financial institutions because there may be a need to close bank accounts. Taxpayers who get erroneous refunds also should contact their tax preparers immediately.

As this is now peak season for filing returns, taxpayers who file electronically could find their tax return has been rejected because another return with their Social Security number is already on file. If that happens, taxpayers should follow the steps detailed in the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft. Taxpayers who can’t file electronically should mail a paper tax return along with Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, telling the IRS they were victims of a data breach.

While MCB employs the highest level of data security for sensitive client information, new scams and cyberattacks are an unfortunate part of our society and you should be aware of these threats. Contact your MCB Tax Advisor and bank immediately if you believe you have fallen victim to an IRS scam.

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