IRS Issues Cardboard Envelope Warning

( – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning taxpayers about a sophisticated new scam. The fraudsters have moved beyond sending badly-spelled emails and started sending official-looking paperwork. Anyone who falls for the scam risks identity theft.

On July 3, the IRS issued a warning about a new scam that tries to suck people in by offering them a tax refund. The deception involves official-looking mail in a cardboard envelope delivered by a delivery service. Inside the envelope is a letter on fake IRS stationery, complete with contact information and a phone number that doesn’t belong to the IRS.

The scammers have baited their trap cleverly; the letter says the recipient has an “unclaimed refund” and then asks for some information to help them process the payment. That information includes a photo of your driver’s license as well as cell phone number, bank account details and social security number. It warns that you need to send all this information to a “Filing Agent” to get your refund. Of course, what actually happens is your information will be exploited by identity thieves, who will use it to try to rob you or falsely claim tax refunds in your name.

The IRS says there are red flags in the letter that should alert you to the fact it’s a scam. Some of the details in it are incorrect; for example, it gives the deadline for filing tax refunds as October 17 when it’s actually October 16. The punctuation and capitalization are incorrect, and the letter is printed in a variety of different fonts.

Scammers often make deliberate mistakes to filter out anyone who might be skeptical about their offers. They want to make sure that anyone who responds to their messages is inclined to believe what they’re told and not question requests for information.

If you get any unexpected mail from the IRS, and something about it doesn’t seem right, don’t be blinded by the promise of a refund — make sure it’s genuine and don’t send scammers any information.

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