An Old Scam with A New Twist
Pastor Jones called our office, upset that he had received a call from “the IRS.” The individual who had called him told him that the IRS had deposited a refund into his bank account in error and that he needed to forward that refund to them immediately.
The Pastor checked his bank account to discover an actual deposit had been made, but how could the IRS make a deposit to his account in error when he had not given his bank account number to the IRS?
Potential Cyber Scams Are Not New
What had happened to Pastor Jones was nothing but an old tax scam with a new twist. For years, innocent people have received calls from someone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Some of these calls have threatened the individuals with impending warrants for their arrest due to money the caller claims the individual owes the Federal Government.
Because we provide Church Management Counsel to Pastor Jones and his Church we immediately researched the issue and discovered that, someone had fraudulently obtained his bank routing and account number. The scammers then filed a false claim with the IRS, had it deposited into Pastor Jones’ account. Their intention was to get Pastor Jones to access the money, send it to them and they would be free and clear while Pastor Jones would have ended up with a bill for the claim from the IRS plus penalties and interest.
What Everyone Should Know About Tax Scams
In the old scam, please be aware that the IRS will not call anyone and tell them that a warrant is being issued for them. As a matter-of-fact, if you will call back to the number they provide and call their bluff, they hang up immediately.
As for the new twist on the scam mentioned above, IRS spokesman Eric Smith provided us with the following steps to take should anyone receive a call similar to Pastor Jones.
Mr. Smith suggested that no one return calls to the scammers, and we agree. We know our business which is why we did in this instance in order to bait the scammers. That is why they immediately disconnected.
Appropriate Steps to Take
If money that you were not expecting was deposited into your account from the IRS, you should take the following steps:
- You will need to return the money—just do not return it to those who have called you.
- Close your bank account and contact your tax preparer.
- To return the fraudulent refund, go to www.irs.gov and search for “Topic Number: 161—Returning an Erroneous Refund—Paper Check or Direct Deposit.” Then follow the steps provided in that article.
- If it was deposited into your bank account, contact the “Automated Clearing House” (ACH) department of your bank. See if you can have the deposit returned directly to the IRS. You must also call the IRS to explain why the refund is being returned. Individuals should call 800-829-1040. If you are a business, call 800-829-4933.
- If the erroneous refund came to you as a paper check, write “void” on the back where you would normally endorse it. Then send the check to the IRS location based on the city listed on the refund check. Include a note explaining why you are returning the refund. Make a copy of the check and return the original via certified mail to be on the safe side.
- It is imperative that you return the money as soon as possible. By law, interest may have accrued on the fraudulent refund.
Mr. Smith further advised that these types of scams are another reason why no one should procrastinate in filing their individual tax returns.
If you have fallen for a tax scam, read the IRS’ “Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft” at www.irs.gov.
Why You Need Us in Your Corner!
Chitwood & Chitwood is the number one Church Management and Accounting firm in the nation. With 80 years of experience we are savvy to everything that Churches and Clergy may encounter.
We file more Ministers’ Income Tax Returns than anyone and get Ministers back an average of $2000 more than other firms. The reason is we have been doing it longer and we know Ministers’ benefits that others do not know.
We encourage you to contact us if you have not filed your return or if it has been prepared send it to us for review prior to filing it. We will review it to see how much we can save you.
At our live Conferences all across the nation we cover this and many other topics of which every Minister and Church Leader should be aware. To register for an upcoming Conference visit us at www.cmtc.org or call 800-344-0076. It will be the best investment you and your Church can make this year.