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Beware: Fraudulent Claims of IRS Refunds

It was 10:30 at night and Robert had answered his phone in the den of his Northern Neck home last month expecting a call from his brother.

“It shocked me,” Robert said. When the mysterious caller with a Middle Eastern accent claimed to be with the IRS, Robert’s ears really perked up. He was owed a $12,000 refund for paying his taxes regularly, the caller told him, and wouldn’t have to pay taxes in the future. The caller admitted that it sounded too good to be true, but assured Robert that it was for real. He already knew Robert’s full name and address – all he needed now was to verify some other information and …

Fortunately, Robert didn’t fall prey to one of the latest consumer scams plaguing Virginia. He hung up the phone, dialed *69, tracing the call to a country in East Africa, and then called my office to report this scam.

Unfortunately, the perpetrators of this fraudulent IRS tax refund scam don’t just bother you on the phone. Citizens have also been getting e-mails from tax-refunds@irs.gov saying that they’re owed a tax refund. These scams look legitimate and direct you to a Web site requesting personal information like a social security number and credit card data.

Don’t fall for it. The IRS doesn’t send out unsolicited e-mails seeking personal information and doesn’t ask for bank numbers or passwords. In addition, if you are truly owed a tax refund, you won’t have to complete a special form in addition to your normal tax return. You can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to ask about the true status of your refund.

If someone has tried one of these tax refund scams on you, please report it to your local law enforcement agency, and then contact me by calling the Consumer Hotline at 1-800-451-1525 or e-mailing consumer@oag.state.va.us. We take consumer protection very seriously in my office. No Virginian should ever be defrauded or conned. By working together, and staying informed, we’ll all be safer.