PIMA COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Stay alert as you file your taxes this season, because this latest scam hopes you won't be paying attention.
Criminals are targeting taxpayers and it involves erroneous tax refunds being deposited into your bank accounts, according to brand new information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
"These criminals have a new twist on an old scam," a news release said. "After stealing client data from tax professionals and filing fraudulent tax returns, these criminals use the taxpayers' real bank accounts for the deposit."
The criminals will reach out to you by either email, or phone call, which Brian Watson said the IRS never does.
"We don't email people, and we don't call people. So if we need to get in touch with you we are going to send you a letter explaining the situation," said Watson, an IRS Special Agent based in the Phoenix Field Office. "You've just got to delete this stuff. Don't click on anything from the IRS. It's the biggest advice right there."
It's why the latest method is cause for concern, using a variation of phone scams that Watson said has stolen about $64 million nationally since 2013.
In one version of this latest scam, "the taxpayer who received the erroneous refund gets an automated call with a recorded voice saying he is from the IRS and threatens the taxpayer with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant and a 'blacklisting' of their Social Security Number. The recorded voice gives the taxpayer a case number and a telephone number to call to return the refund," the news release said.
The IRS is calling for tax professionals to increase security of sensitive client tax and financial files.
"Unfortunately, people are just falling for it. They panic," Watson told Tucson News Now. "We think a lot of the people are just not financially savvy. They may live by themselves. They could be older, but we're also finding very young people falling for this scam. They're equal opportunity predators. They're going to take money from whoever they can get money from."
They are preying on you, hoping you won't notice if you've filed yet or if you've received your refund already.
The criminals are just playing the odds.
"They only have to be lucky one out of 100, one out of 1,000 times, to make money and make it worth their time. So it's just the sheer volume that they do it."
Learn the official ways to return an erroneous refund to the IRS.