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Tax scammers hard at work with new fake IRS mailing

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Guess who's not taking a long July 4th holiday? Tax scammers.

The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners today warned of a new scam mailing in which crooks tell the correspondence recipients that they are owed a tax refund.

The fake tax mailing comes in a cardboard envelope from a delivery service. As is often the case with tax scams, the letter includes contact information and a phone number that do not belong to the IRS.

The mailing tells recipients that in order to get their refund, they must provide personal information, such as detailed pictures of driver's licenses. It wants them to email or phone (using that not-IRS number) that personal data, which then can be used by the crooks to steal their victims' real tax refunds and identities.

Common scam warning signs: The IRS and Security Summit members, which include state tax administrators and the nation's tax industry, note that this new scheme contains many warning signs that have appeared in previous scams.

The letter tells the recipients they need to provide "Filing Information" for their refund. This includes some awkwardly worded requests, such as —

"A Clear Phone of Your Driver's License That Clearly Displays All Four (4) Angles, Taken in a Place with Good Lighting."

OK, we all make typos. But phone, instead of photo? Really?

Syntax troubles also are clear in the fake mailing's request of sensitive personal information. The targeted taxpayers' data the con artists ask for cellphone number, bank routing information, Social Security number, and bank account type. The letter says —

"You'll Need to Get This to Get Your Refunds After Filing. These Must Be Given to a Filing Agent Who Will Help You Submit Your Unclaimed Property Claim. Once You Send All The Information Please Try to Be Checking Your Email for Response From The Agents Thanks"

So many places to start, but the biggie here is that the IRS handles tax refunds, not "unclaimed property."

Other common scam warning signs in this letter, notes the IRS, are odd punctuation and a mixture of fonts.

Then there's also just plain wrong tax information, which is not uncommon in scam attempts. For example, the letter says the deadline for filing tax refunds is Oct. 17. That was last year's extension date. Taxpayers getting extra time for 2022 return filings in 2023 have until Oct. 16.

"This is just the latest in the long string of attempts by identity thieves posing as the IRS in hopes of tricking people into providing valuable personal information to steal identities and money, including tax refunds," said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. "These scams can come in through email, text or even in special mailings. People should be careful to watch out for red flags that clearly mark these as IRS scams."

Report tax scams: While the IRS does send taxpayers letters, they typically are sent via the U.S. Postal Service. The scam mailings come via delivery services.

When you do get a letter from the IRS, double check that it's legitimate before acting. If you're suspicious, call the agency directly at its toll-free help line (800) 829-1040 instead of using the number in the mailing.

If you determine the mailing is a scam, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI's) Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The Federal Communications Commission's (FTC's) Smartphone Security Checker is a useful tool against mobile security threats.

For email phishing, report the scam attempt by sending the email or a copy of the text/SMS as an attachment to [email protected]. The report should include the caller ID (email or phone number), date, time and time zone, and the number that received the message. The IRS' Report Phishing and Online Scams online page has more details.

Finally, you can also review the ol' blog's alerts and tips on identity theft schemes and tax scams. Most recently, you might find these items of interest:

 

 

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