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Tax Refund Scammers Target College Students And Staff, IRS Warns

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Got a .edu email address? That tax refund email is not from the Internal Revenue Service!

Got a .edu email address? You might be the target of the latest Internal Revenue Service impersonation scam. The IRS issued a warning today that scammers using phishing emails are targeting university and college students and staff from both public and private, profit and non-profit institutions. 

The scammers appear to be targeted those who have “.edu” email addresses, using various subject lines such as “Tax Refund Payment” or “Recalculation of your tax refund payment” and asking the recipients to click on a link and submit a form to claim their refund. The emails display the IRS logo, but what should make you suspicious is that they ask for your Social Security number, date of birth, driver’s license and electronic filing pin. Don’t fall for it!

The IRS does not send out unsolicited emails and will never initiate contact with taxpayers about the status of refunds, a tax bill or a stimulus payment.

Phishing scams continue to top the IRS “Dirty Dozen” annual list of scams that taxpayers face. These scams rise during tax season and during times of crisis—so it’s not surprising they’re showing up during an extended tax season and heightened anxiety around the coronavirus pandemic. (Tax day is Monday, May 17 for most filers this year.)

College students may be especially vulnerable to IRS impersonation scams because they may be filing a tax return for the first time. College students who aren’t claimed as a dependent on a parent’s return in 2020 can claim a recovery rebate credit on their 2020 tax return to get the $1,200 Round 1 and $600 Round 2 stimulus payments. Filing a 2020 return will also put them in line to get a $1,400 Round 3 payment for 2021.

In its latest weekly update of 2021 filing season statistics for 2020 tax returns as of March 19, the IRS says that it has issued nearly 50 million tax refunds so far with an average refund amount of $2,929. 

If you get one of these scam emails, save it and send it as an attachment to phishing@irs.gov. That will notify the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the IRS Criminal Investigation.

To check the status of a tax refund, check out the IRS Where’s My Refund? tool. To check the status of a Round 3 stimulus payment, check out the IRS Get My Payment tool. To check the status of Round 1 or Round 2 payments, you have to set up an IRS online account.

This article was written by Ashlea Ebeling from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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