The Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday warned taxpayers of a widespread scam involving false tax returns and fake calls to return money.
The IRS describes how criminals steal information from tax professionals, file falsified tax returns, and then have the money deposited in the taxpayer's own bank account.
The criminal would then contact the victim posing as an official from the IRS or another agency, telling them that the money was deposited in error, or threaten the victim with criminal fraud charges, and telling the victim to send the money to the criminals' agency.
"Because this is a peak season for filing tax returns, taxpayers who file electronically may find that their tax return will reject because a return bearing their Social Security number is already on file," the IRS said in its press release.
"If that's the case, taxpayers should follow the steps outlined in the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft. Taxpayers unable to file electronically should mail a paper tax return along with Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, stating they were victims of a tax preparer data breach."
The agency outlines various official ways to return an erroneous deposit, including phone numbers to call and explain the situation. In the case of a refund that comes in by direct deposit, contact the bank's automated clearinghouse to return it after contacting the IRS to inform them of the reason for the return.
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