July 5, 2023

New Scam Targets Unclaimed Tax Refunds, Warns IRS

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), alongside its Security Summit partners, has issued a warning regarding a novel scam. Fraudsters are reportedly sending cardboard envelopes, posing as a delivery service, urging recipients to share photographs and banking details to claim a supposedly unclaimed tax refund.

The scam letter, featuring the IRS logo, asserts it’s related to an “unclaimed refund.” However, the contact details and phone number provided do not belong to the IRS. The fraudsters request sensitive personal information, including detailed images of driver’s licenses, thereby exposing taxpayers to potential identity theft.

IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel stated, “These identity thieves masquerade as the IRS, hoping to deceive individuals into surrendering valuable personal information. This allows them to steal identities, money, and tax refunds. Such scams can appear as emails, texts, or special mailings, so people should be vigilant about such red flags.”

The Security Summit, a collaborative effort between the IRS, state tax administrators, and the tax preparation industry, advises the public to safeguard their personal information against such scams and potential tax-related identity theft.

The new scam is characterized by similar features found in fraudulent emails and text messages. Its distinct aspect lies in attempting to coax individuals into sharing their personal information over phone calls or emails.

The fraudulent letter specifies the need to provide “Filing Information” to claim the refund. It includes poorly worded requests, such as a clear photograph of the recipient’s driver’s license, taken from all four angles in well-lit conditions.

Further sensitive information is solicited, including mobile phone numbers, bank routing details, Social Security numbers, and bank account types. The letter concludes with a strangely worded warning.

The scam letter exhibits several red flags, including unusual punctuation, font inconsistencies, and factual inaccuracies. For instance, it misstates the deadline for tax refund filings as Oct. 17, even though the deadline for extended 2022 tax returns is Oct. 16. The letter erroneously references “unclaimed property,” which the IRS does not handle.

For more information or for help reporting a scam, please contact Heritage Tax Company at (207) 888-8800.