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Scammers Go 'Old School' With IRS Mailing

1040 tax form
RomanR - stock.adobe.com
1040 tax form

The next time a scammer tries to target you, it might not be through a text message with a harmful link. The Internal Revenue Service says bad actors are using the mail delivery system to prey on people by telling them they're owed a refund. Officials say the mailing comes in a cardboard envelope from a delivery service. Inside is a letter featuring the IRS masthead with wording about an unclaimed refund. The recipient is then urged to provide sensitive information through non-agency contact options.

Amy Nofziger, director of fraud victim support with AARP's Fraud Watch Network, said the approach speaks to how quickly scammers can adapt with the public on high alert right now about digital fraud.

"They're going through an old method for a lot of us, but a new method for some of us. And when things do come through the mail, oftentimes, we do pay a little bit more attention to it because it's a physical item in our hands."

The IRS reports there are plenty of red flags in these mailings, including odd punctuation and a mixture of fonts. There also are factual errors, with the letter saying the deadline for filing tax refunds is October 17th, when the correct date is October 16th.

Nofziger added whether it is this example or another attempt where the fraudster poses as a government agency or company, there's a common thought process that should play out.

"What information are they asking for?," she said. "Are they asking for information that they do not need to process this refund?"

She said if you feel uncertain whether or not you are being scammed, look up the agency's contact information to call and verify. As for imposter scams that involve technology, Nofziger advises you should never follow through with a request from the person on the other end to provide remote access to an electronic device.

Mike Moen is a radio news reporter with nearly two decades of experience in the field. He has covered much of the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Many of his stories have aired nationally, including several public radio programs.
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