The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners are cautioning taxpayers and tax professionals to beware of a new scam in which fraudsters are sending out cardboard envelopes from a delivery service asking people to send photos and bank account information so they can receive an unclaimed tax refund.
The envelope has a letter bearing the IRS masthead and claiming that the notice is “in relation to your unclaimed refund.”
The letter includes contact information and a phone number that don’t belong to the IRS, but it asks for sensitive personal information from taxpayers — including detailed pictures of driver’s licenses — that can be used by identity thieves to try to get a tax refund and other sensitive financial information.
“This is just the latest in the long string of attempts by identity thieves posing as the IRS in hopes of tricking people into providing valuable personal information to steal identities and money, including tax refunds,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel in a statement Monday. “These scams can come in through email, text or even in special mailings. People should be careful to watch out for red flags that clearly mark these as IRS scams.”
The Security Summit — a coalition between the IRS, state tax administrators and the tax prep industry — is warning people to protect their personal information to protect against tax-related identity theft as well as scams like this.
The new scam bears the hallmarks of similar schemes seen in emails and text messages from fraudsters. An unusual feature of the scam is that it tries to fool people into emailing or phoning detailed personal information in an effort to steal valuable information.
The letter tells the recipients they need to provide “Filing Information” for their refund. It includes some awkwardly worded requests like this:
“A Clear Phone of Your Driver’s License That Clearly Displays All Four (4) Angles, Taken in a Place with Good Lighting.”
The letter then asks for more sensitive information including a mobile phone number, bank routing information, Social Security number and bank account type, followed by this poorly worded warning:
“(You’ll Need to Get This to Get Your Refunds After Filing. These Must Be Given to a Filing Agent Who Will Help You Submit Your Unclaimed Property Claim. Once You Send All The Information Please Try to Be Checking Your Email for Response From The Agents Thanks“
This letter also contains a variety of warning signs, including odd punctuation and a mixture of fonts as well as inaccuracies.
For example, the letter says the deadline for filing tax refunds is Oct. 17, even though the deadline for people on extension for their 2022 tax returns is actually Oct. 16, and those owed refunds from last year have time beyond that. And the IRS handles tax refunds, not “unclaimed property.”