Tax experts warn about scams for 2017 tax season

HARTFORD -- Tax experts are warning of several fraudulent tax schemes, as the 2017 tax season gets underway.

"The bad guys find your Social Security number somehow, they file a fraudulent tax return with your Social Security number and they try to claim your refund for you," said Brenden Healy, Tax Director at Whittlesey & Hadley in Hartford.

He said fraudulent phone calls from people pretending to be the IRS are becoming more common and more aggressive.

"It's a very intimidating phone call," said Healy, who said both he and his clients have received the calls. "They sound like they're from the IRS. They demand a payment. They threaten to sue you or throw you in jail. It's all fraudulent."

Healy cautions against giving out personal information, saying the IRS would never ask for such information over the phone or via email.

"The IRS is not going to ask for your Social Security number over the phone," said Healy. "They know what your Social Security number is. They know what your date of birth is. They know all that information, so they don't ask for that stuff."

Healy said if you truly do owe the IRS money, you will receive multiple letters in the mail from the agency. He said the IRS and State of Connecticut go through certain metrics to verify that returns are accurate. Healy said the IRS does not share exactly how it monitors for fraud, but said it has been doing this for the last few years, and is expanding its efforts this year. Because of this, you might get your return a little later this year.

"They will say it might be a few more weeks longer," said Healy. "I've watched refunds take several months longer."

In most cases, Healy said filing earlier is ideal. "If you file early, you in effect beat the bad guys to the filing process."

If you do become a victim, Healy said the IRS and your accountant will work with you to help resolve the problem. You can also report a problem at IRS.gov.