Use caution when contacting IRS over refund status

Better Call 4

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Due to a backlog at the IRS, some taxpayers here in Central Ohio have been waiting for months to get their refunds. And as they look for the status of their refunds, there are concerns about scammers trying to get ahold of their money and personal information.

The extended tax-filing deadline of May 17 has come and gone, and since then, IRS spokesperson Luis Garcia said many American taxpayers have already received their refunds.

“If you file electronically and you ask for a direct deposit, it’s 21 days or less for you to get that refund. On average, we’ve been hitting that mark,” said Garcia.

But others, like Michelle, are still waiting.

She called Better Call 4 at the beginning of July. She did not want to appear on camera, but tells me she’s desperately waiting for her refund.

And while trying to track down her money, Michelle saw a phone number for the IRS on Facebook: 1-833-558-5245, extension 288.

“I was happy to talk to someone, gave her all of my information,” said Michelle. “I even noticed she asked me for my mother’s maiden name.”

Michelle said the woman on the other end of the phone provided her with the same information she was able to see once she logged on to “Where’s My Refund?” on the IRS.gov website. But, once she hung up, Michelle had an uneasy feeling about providing so much personal information over the phone. So, she Googled phone numbers for the IRS, and the same number she saw on Facebook popped up, with one difference.

“When it took me to the IRS page, it says the number, and then it says extension 278.”

Because of that, Michelle’s concerned she was talking to a “highly trained scammer.” So, she called Better Call 4 to investigate.

I called Garcia with the IRS. He tells me that Michelle has nothing to worry about. That number and both extensions are legitimate.

But, he adds, taxpayers should stick to the refund inquiry phone number listed (800-829-1040) on IRS.gov. Garcia said IRS representatives cannot tell anyone anything more than what they could find out on their own, and much faster, through the “Where’s My Refund?” link.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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