IRS warns of refund scam

As of March 2, the average refund paid out so far was $3,046, according to IRS data.

They're at it again... tax scammers scheming new ways to steal personal information and money.

"You can't necessarily monitor tax ID fraud, because of the fact that so much of our information is out there", says Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at The fraudster then calls the taxpayer, saying the refund was deposited in error and threatens to send the matter to a collection agency if the taxpayer doesn't "return" the money by sending it to the fraudster. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), there was a 40% decline in taxpayers reporting they were victims of identity theft from 2016 to 2017, presumably thanks in part to IRS security awareness campaigns for both tax professionals and taxpayers, and additional security measures put in place.

About $1.1 billion in unclaimed federal income tax refunds - including $18.3 million owed to Alabamians - is waiting for taxpayers who did not file 2014 federal income tax returns.

Hacks tax preparers' computers to steal taxpayer data. The criminals asked taxpayers to forward the money to the collection agency.

If the above options aren't available, or don't seem like the best alternative, you can apply to the IRS for an installment payment plan. That means April 17, 2018, is the last day for people who didn't file their returns in 2014.

Don't reply to any emails, texts or social media messages asking for your personal information. The thieves then contact you, often by phone, and - posing as the IRS or debt collectors for the IRS - demand you return the money to the IRS.

Don't hire a tax preparer who asks you to sign a blank return, the state Tax Department warned.

In one version of the scam reported to the IRS, a taxpayer reported receiving a fraudulent refund, and later getting an automated call with a recording of someone claiming to be from the IRS.

If you have available credit, you may want to borrow from a lender or credit card. Simply contact any one of the three major credit-reporting bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax or Experian) and they will alert the other two bureaus about your fraud alert.

Federal law allows tax payers a three-year window for claiming a tax refund. In Texas, 108,000 people didn't file a tax return in 2014, leaving behind a whopping $122 million. You can get them right away free of charge.

Vanessa Coleman