TOPEKA – (March 28, 2022) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is urging Kansans to be vigilant this tax season as scammers try to defraud them of their refunds or steal their identity through various schemes.
Schmidt said today that the Consumer Protection Division was experiencing a noticeable increase in calls and emails from Kansans who are being targeted by scammers offering to assist them with filing their tax returns. Often the scammers will promise to expedite a taxpayer’s refund that is due back from the Internal Revenue Service or the State of Kansas.
Identity thieves are always looking for ways to use a legitimate taxpayer’s identity and personal information. This time of year, they use the information to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund. With the speed of electronic tax filing, the victim may not be aware of the incident until notified by the Internal Revenue Service that more than one return was filed in his or her name, or that he or she has a discrepancy in taxable earnings and employer identification information. By that time, the tax refund is often already in the hands of the scam artist.
Another tax-related scam is the IRS imposter. The scammer will claim the victim owes taxes and demands the citizen pay immediately over the phone, usually with a gift card or pre-paid debit card. Like a typical phone scam, they pressure the victim into making a bad decision without properly thinking it through; in some cases, they even threaten arrest. The real IRS will never threaten arrest over the phone. The attorney general’s office advises that if a consumer receives these types of threatening calls, just hang up.
No government agency will threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law enforcement agencies to arrest people for not paying their taxes. The IRS also cannot revoke a license or immigration status. Threats like these are common tactics scam artists use to trick victims into believing their schemes.
A similar scheme involves a con artist obtaining a taxpayer’s personal data including Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number and bank account information. The scammer files a bogus tax return and has the refund deposited into the taxpayer’s checking or savings account. Once the direct deposit hits the bank account, the fraudster calls them, posing as an IRS employee. The taxpayer is told that there’s been an error and that the IRS needs the money returned immediately or penalties and interest will result. The taxpayer is told to purchase specific gift cards for the amount of the refund.
Kansans should be wary of tax preparers who promise inflated refunds by claiming fake tax credits, including education credits, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and others. Taxpayers should be alert of anyone who asks you to sign a blank return, promises a big refund before looking at the taxpayer’s records or charges fees based on a percentage of the refund.
Carefully consider whether to take a refund anticipation check or refund advance loan. Neither of these mean that the IRS will issue a tax refund more quickly. Refund anticipation checks often include an obligation to pay fees for the delay in paying tax preparation costs. A refund advance loan may mean cash now, but many times fees and any interest will be taken out of the tax refund. As with any financial product or service, consider all fees, charges, and timing to help you make a financial decision that is best for your situation.
Neither the Kansas Department of Revenue nor the IRS will demand that people use a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS will not ask for debit or credit card numbers over the phone. People who owe federal taxes should make payments to the U.S. Treasury or review IRS.gov/payments for IRS online options. For Kansas, credit card payments may only be made if the consumer initiates the call or transaction. For more information call the Kansas Department of Revenue Customer Service Center 785-368-8222 or e-mail KDOR_IncomeEServ@ks.gov (individual taxpayers) or 785-368-8222 or email KDOR_BusinessTaxEServices@ks.gov (business and miscellaneous).
If you believe you have been the victim of tax-related identity theft, visit irs.gov/identity-theft-central for information. As always, please feel free to call Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-432-2310 or find more information online at www.InYourCornerKansas.org .