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New tax return scam targets college students and staff

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 8:28 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Scammers are relentless and they never take a break, but they do ramp up efforts when there’s major changes.

In addition to being in tax season, the recent deadline extension to file your taxes this year has prompted a new scam you should be aware of.

In a recent alert, the IRS is warning of a new scam specifically targeting educational institutions.

Recent complaints show the impersonation scam is emailing university and college students & staff that have an “.edu” email address.

“Any sort of uncertainty with anything, or a change in something spurs scammers,” said Jessie Schmidt with the Better Business Bureau.

The scam emails include the IRS logo and attention-grabbing subject lines such as “Tax Refund Payment” or “Recalculation of your tax refund payment.”

“They capture all those emails with that extension and pretty soon they’re spamming out hundreds of thousands of emails with one single message and all they need is just a accouple of individuals to click on that and infiltrate their systems,” explained Schmidt.

The email claims in order for you to claim your tax refund, you need to click a link and submit a form that asks for your personal information.

She said by clicking that link, it downloads malware to your device that can get access to valuable information.

“So, every time I go online and enter something, it’s on a computer somewhere else showing exactly what I’m typing. So, if I go onto my banking app or my bank website, it’s got my user name and my password. Pretty soon then, they have captured all of my sensitive information.”

Recognizing what is a scam can be difficult.

But, in a video released by the IRS, they say recognizing the way you’re being contacted is key, “In most cases, first contact from the internal revenue service will come in the form of an official notice by mail.”

“They are not emailing you. They are not texting you. Their preferred method of communication is typically by the postal system. So, if somebody calls you and says they’re calling you from the IRS, that’s a huge scam,” said Schmidt.

If you receive an email you believe is a scam, there’s a number of ways you can report it including on the BBB scam tracker website.

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