We are living in a time of cyber-crime, and criminals are using personal information, such as your name and Social Security Number, that they have stolen to file false tax returns. Criminals use the identifying information they have obtained illegally to file a tax return in your name and claim the refund that rightfully belongs to you. The Vermont Department of Taxes has sophisticated systems in place to detect and prevent tax refund fraud.
While all staff are tasked to be watchful for fraud, the Department has allocated additional staff to work on fraud detection full-time. Staff manually review individual returns that have been flagged electronically to determine which returns are fraudulent and to pay legitimate requests for refunds.
Taxpayers should be aware that the department is implementing new measures to combat personal income tax fraud for the 2017 tax filing season, and that they may experience some delays in receiving their refunds. The Department will begin processing returns the first week of February, however we may hold some returns until we receive W-2 withholding reports from employers, which are due on Jan. 31.
Threats You Should Know About
Debt Collection Scams
Persons unauthorized by the Department of Taxes may contact you, usually by telephone or email, and demand immediate payment of tax debt. These criminals sometimes pose as employees of the Vermont Department of Taxes, or they may pretend to be an outside collections agency acting on behalf of the Department to collect tax debt.
Criminals who operate this type of scam are experts in persuasion tactics, often using threats and bullying. If you aren’t sure whether a telephone call or email is real or a scam, do the following:
- Hang up. Do not engage in conversation with the caller over the telephone.
- Delete the email. Do not open any email attachments or click on any hyperlinks.
- Do not give out any personal information until you are certain the call or email is genuine.
Contact us to verify if you owe real tax debt and if we have assigned your debt to an outside collections agency at (802) 828-2518.
Scam artists also pose as the agents of the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Find out more about these types of scams from the IRS.
During the 2016 filing season, the IRS saw an approximate 400 percent surge in phishing an malware incidents. Phishing attempts can look like a valid email, but have a link that takes you to a website designed to capture your personal information. The IRS has issued helpful guidance on phishing schemes.
- IRS: Don't Take the Bait; Avoid Phishing and Malware to Protect Your Personal Data
- IRS: Suspicious Emails and Identity Theft
- IRS: Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts
Do You Believe You Have Become a Victim Of Identity Theft?
If you suspect an email is fraudulent, do not respond and do not open attachments. Delete the email. Similarly, phone calls should be disconnected. Do not engage in conversation with the caller. If you wish to verify a communication or report a scam, contact the Department of Taxes.
If you have been contacted by an IRS telephone scam, please report it to the Vermont Attorney General at: (800) 649-2424 or visit the Consumer Assistance Program website for more information.
Report identity theft and create a recovery plan at IdentityTheft.gov.
Find out how you can protect yourself from identity theft and fraud.