New scam makes tax preparers unwitting participants in having your refund stolen

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Internal Revenue Service is issuing a warning about a rapidly-growing scam where you think you’re getting a huge tax return – but in reality – it’s the scammers who profit.

For some of us who are mathematically challenged, doing our own taxes can be a daunting task.

There are instructions, tax tables and supplemental forms that can be downright confusing, so many of us turn to tax preparers – but so have criminals.

The latest scam is aimed at stealing your refund, but it goes through tax preparers who are unwitting participants because of their databases.

“We have a wealth of information at our fingertips and in our systems,” said Raleigh CPA Robert Davis.

As a tax preparer, Davis takes extraordinary measures to protect his client’s data – but still he worries.

“What keeps me up at night is my fear my computer systems will be breached,” he said.

And it’s breaches which are at the heart of this latest scam. The IRS says the scam has exploded in the last two weeks, so much so the agency has put out multiple warnings on its website.

Here’s how it works:

Criminals hack a tax preparer’s computer and then file phony refund claims using that stolen information.

Since the IRS thinks it’s your tax return, your refund will either get directly deposited to your bank account or sent to you in the mail.

That’s when the scammers step in, calling you pretending to be the IRS or a credit agency working for the IRS.

They say the refund you received was a mistake and that you need to send the money back. They will ask you to wire it to them, and bingo, they’ve got the cash and you’re left with troubles with the IRS.

“The IRS is being aggressive about chasing these scams down,” said Davis.

But, it is up to you to notify the IRS you’ve been victimized.

“There are forms to fill out and the taxpayer needs to contact the IRS directly because they want to speak to the taxpayer,” said Davis.

If you received a paper check for an unexpected refund, write “VOID” on the front of the check and return it promptly to the IRS with a note saying that you were a victim of identity fraud.

If the money was direct deposited, you need to get the bank to close that account because the crooks now have access to it.

If you already cashed an improperly issued refund, send the IRS a personal check with a notation that it is repayment for an erroneous refund that was from the tax preparer refund scam.

If you need to know more about how to deal with an IRS identity theft issue, use this link here for additional resources.WHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON:

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