The Internal Revenue Service reported on Feb. 14 that nearly two dozen tax practitioner firms have reported ID and data thefts so far this year.
Who says you can't teach a tax scammer new tricks?
One of the hottest new scams out there involves fraudsters who file phony tax returns in the hopes of getting a relatively skimpy tax refund. They're no longer just out to steal thousands of dollars by tapping into generous tax credits.
"For at least the last two years, we've seen fraudsters try to lodge low dollar refund claims hoping that those smaller numbers will encounter less scrutiny when being processed by tax authorities," said Andy Phillips, director of H&R Block's Tax Institute.
"We're talking about refunds that are lower than a few hundred dollars in most cases," Phillips said.
Even after writing about tax refund fraud for roughly 10 years, I am amazed at how nimble these crooks continue to be. Back in 2011, I was one of the first to report a scheme where fraudsters found Social Security numbers of the deceased online and used that information to file phony returns and collect fraudulent refund checks.