WASHINGTON (CBS) – The Internal Revenue Service says several thousand taxpayers are at risk of being defrauded by scammers looking to take their tax refund.

The agency said Tuesday this is “a new twist on an old scam.”

“After stealing client data from tax professionals and filing fraudulent tax returns, these criminals use the taxpayers’ real bank accounts for the deposit,” the IRS said in a statement. “Thieves are then using various tactics to reclaim the refund from the taxpayers, and their versions of the scam may continue to evolve.”

The IRS says sometimes scammers pose as debt collection agency workers, telling Americans that their refund was deposited in error and they should forward money to a collection agency.

In other cases, taxpayers are getting robocalls from a person saying they are with the IRS. They threaten criminal charges, arrest and “blacklisting” of the victim’s social security numbers unless the refund is returned over the phone.

The IRS says it has been urging professional tax preparers to step up security of clients’ files.

Official information on how to return an erroneous refund to the IRS can be found here.


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