ASK THE CALIFORNIA EMPLOYMENT TAX AND PAYROLL TAX ATTORNEY – BEWARE OF LATEST IRS REFUND SCAM
By Robert S. Schriebman
On July 3, 2023, the IRS issued a press release warning the public of a clever and new scam misleading people into believing they are owed a refund. This scam is slick. It involves a mailing coming in a cardboard envelope from a recognized courier service. The letterhead looks identical to an official IRS masthead and containing wording that the notice is “in relation to your unclaimed refund.” The contact letter includes information and a phone number that does not belong to the IRS, but rings at the scammer’s location. If you call the number you are asked for a variety of sensitive personal information including detailed pictures of your driver’s license, as well as other sensitive financial information. The crooks use the personal information to perpetrate not only identity theft but to also steal taxpayer’s legitimate future refunds. IR-2023-123, July 3, 2023
Several years ago, when this type of identity theft was in its infancy, I recall receiving from clients phony letters from the IRS with the actual and official IRS masthead. I immediately turned this documentation into the IRS to intercept the crooks and hopefully file criminal charges against them. Just think how far advanced these crooks have become.
A Scam designed to Steal Your Identity
An unusual feature in the latest sophisticated scam is that it tries tricking people to email or phone in very detailed personal information with the goal of identity theft. According to the latest IRS press release, the phony letter tells the target they need to provide, “Filing Information” for their refund. This includes sample worded requests as follows:
- “A Clear Phone of Your Driver’s License That Clearly Displays All Four (4) Angels, Taken in a Place with Good Lighting.” The letter proceeds for more sensitive information including cellphone number, bank information, Social Security number and bank account type, followed by a poorly worded warning:
- “You’ll Need to Get Your Refund Filing. These Must Be Given to a Filing Agent Who Will Help You Submit Your Unclaimed Property Claim. Once You Send All The Information Try to Be Checking Your Email for Response From The Agents Thanks.”
- These letters also contain deadlines.
The prose in the above examples is awkward and one can speculate that the crooks are operating offshore.
What to Do?
The most important protection factor is your own gut. If you know in your heart that you are not entitled to or expecting a tax refund, that alone should tell you the letter is a scam. Scams should be reported by sending a copy of the letter as an attachment to [email protected].
Taxpayers can also report scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The Report Phishing and Online Scams page at IRS.gov provides complete details. The Federal Communications Commission’s Smartphone Security Checker is a useful tool against mobile security threats.
Robert Schriebman has a successful practice in the Rolling Hills Estates area of Los Angeles County serving clients throughout California and the United States. He has successfully dedicated more than 50 years to helping individual taxpayers, business owners, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, and tax attorneys navigate the complicated tax systems of the federal and state governments. Mr. Schriebman is in private practice. He is not affiliated in any way with the EDD, and he is not employed by the EDD or any other agency of the State of California.
Robert Schriebman has written the only 2 books ever published dealing with how California Employment Development Department (EDD) operates. See “California Tax Collection Practice and Procedures” and “California Taxation Practice and Procedure,” both published by Commerce Clearing House.
Robert Schriebman has written over 20 books including the major manual used nationally by practitioners and the IRS, “IRS Tax Collection Procedures – A Manual for Practitioners” published by Commerce Clearing House.
Robert Schriebman has written over 20 books including the major manual used nationally by practitioners and the IRS, “IRS Tax Collection Procedures – A Manual for Practitioners” published by Commerce Clearing House in addition to the only 2 books ever published dealing with how California Employment Development Department (EDD) operates. See “California Tax Collection Practice and Procedures” and “California Taxation Practice and Procedure,” both published by Commerce Clearing House.
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