IRS imposters have been around for years. But now, they're finding a new way to target you.
It's one of the most notorious scam calls of our time -- a robotic voice telling you to pay up immediately or else.
The phony IRS calls ring up millions of dollars in cash sent to criminals. But the real IRS says there's a brand new scam making the rounds, just in time for tax season.
Gabe Grchan is the special agent in charge of the Chicago Field Office. He says the new scam starts with stealing your personal information.
“They'll file a false tax return in an unsuspecting individual's name, have it deposited into that individual's bank account,” he said.
Then, they'll try and trick you into giving that government issued refund back - straight to the scam artist - through an email or a phone call.
“They'll call them and say you know, we're from the IRS, you know, we need to refund this money right away,” Gabe said.
So how did they steal your information to begin with? It could have started with a tax preparer who didn't secure your data.
Philip Reitinger is president and CEO of the Global Cyber Alliance. His firm checked out 8 top tax return softwares and it found only half used a certain kind of protection called "D-marc" – which is designed to ward off email phishing.
“There's a mechanism out there that is extremely effective that hasn't been deployed as broadly as it might be,” he said.
So whether you've done your taxes yet or not, watch for tax-related phishing emails.
“Ordinary people have got to be really careful,” Philip said.
If you haven't picked your preparer yet, Gabe Grchan says ask to see the person's "P-TIN" - a credential legit preparers are required to have.
And if you don't get the answers you want, don't be afraid to talk to the IRS directly.
“We're there to help, we're there to provide assistance and support,” Gabe said.
Gabe also says the IRS never communicates through email, text message or social media.