NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) – A tax scam aimed at stealing consumer refunds has ballooned, with the IRS reporting that the number of potential victims has soared from a few hundred to “several thousand in just days.”
, the con appears to have started in tax preparers’ offices, where infected computers provided access to complete return data on thousands of consumers. The crooks are using the purloined data — including Social Security numbers, dependents data and even bank account information — to file refund claims on behalf of the victimized taxpayers.
The IRS does not know how many taxpayers will ultimately be affected. But in a sign of how seriously it’s taking the scam, the agency on Tuesday issued a second notice to tax preparers urging them to notify the agency, the FBI, local police and their clients as soon as they discover a data breach.
“Speed is critical,” the agency said in its advisory. “If reported quickly, the IRS can take steps to block fraudulent returns in a preparer’s clients’ names.”