If you’re like a lot of American taxpayers, you get a tax refund each year after filing your federal income taxes with the IRS. It can come in as little as 10 days or it can take longer than a month. Those who file electronically and request direct deposit usually get their tax refunds in around three weeks.
Checking the IRS Status of a Refund
But there is a long list of things that can slow down your IRS tax refund, so it’s usually anybody’s guess when you’ll finally get it. You can now track the IRS status of your refund online. It’s a good system run by the IRS on their website here. You get to answer questions and log in so the info you get is just for you and your refund.
But what happens if you check your refund status and find out that your check was mailed long ago? Or, if you chose the direct deposit method of receiving your money, what if that deposit was made long ago and it doesn’t show up in your bank account?
Tax Refund Scams
There’s a chance you could be a victim of a tax refund scam. This type of theft is growing, as scam artists get a hold of your personal information and redirect your IRS refund to themselves. The online tool is handy for checking the IRS status of your refund so you can make sure nobody stole it.
How does someone steal your refund? Well they steal your identity, which means somehow they get your social security number. Sometimes they do this by sending out emails with links to a fake IRS website, with a fake refund status checker tool. Victims unwittingly go to the fake website and enter their social security number, name, and tax refund amount (that’s what you would be doing to check the IRS status of refund on the real IRS website). Now they have your personal info, they’ll take that to the actual IRS website and redirect your refund to themselves. Or, they’ll file a tax return pretending to be you. These emails are called phishing emails.
What to Do If Your IRS Refund Status Shows You are a Victim
First of all, the IRS doesn’t send out emails to people where they ask them to follow a link and enter personal information. So if you can remember doing so, and you’ve checked your IRS status of refund and you should have received your money more than 29 days ago, contact the IRS right away.
Sometimes victims of refund scams will get a letter from the IRS saying they’ve filed their taxes twice. Well that second filing is most definitely a tax return scam! Call them at once and work with them to figure out what’s going on.
To report identity theft, call the IRS at 1-800-908-4490.