A reader: I filed my taxes online as soon as I got my W-2. I am supposed to get a $3,596 return. I filed early and have not received my refund yet. So I called the IRS. They told me that my refund was sent to a bank account that was not mine. What can I do?
Action Line: This seems to be a huge problem. You have become a victim of ID theft. The first thing you need to do is to file a police report. You can ask the IRS to stop payment on the refund if it has not already been posted to the IRS account. Contact the respective financial institution to see if they can help you recover your funds.
Please know that the IRS continues to battle against refund fraud. To avoid becoming the next victim, the IRS advises to check the status of your tax return within 24 hours after the IRS has received your efile or four weeks after you paper file. You will need your Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number, your filing status and the exact amount of your refund to check your status. The best place to go is online at fblinks.com/irs or by calling 800-829-1040.
▪ Never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.
▪ Never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations.
▪ Never requests immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. Taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies.
BBB suggests that you should never give any money or credit card information over the phone to someone you do not know. If you give out credit card information, you are authorizing that person to add charges to your account. If they ask you to get a preloaded card, they can take all of the money loaded on the card. Many scammers use scare tactics like the threat of arrest to get you to give up the info. Don’t do it. If you think you might have some back taxes that need to be paid, call the IRS yourself at 800-829-1040. Verify it. The scammer might be able to use a real IRS number on the caller ID but if you call IRS yourself, you can be sure you are talking to an actual IRS agent.
If you have received one of these calls or become a victim, you can call the Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484 to report. You may also want to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov. If you think you have been a victim of an IRS scam, please contact us at 800-675-8118.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.