Special Notice Regarding IRS Email Scams

A warning to international students: Refund email scam

There are several variations of the refund scam, in which an email claiming to come from the United States Internal Revenue Service falsely informs the recipient that he or she is eligible for a tax refund for a specific amount. The bogus e-mail instructs the recipient to click on a link to access a refund claim form. The form requests personal information that the scammers can use to access the e-mail recipient’s bank or credit card account.

This notification is phony. The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mail about tax account matters to taxpayers. Foreign Nationals should never provide their Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to anyone via an email. The support center for the Glacier Tax Prep software provided by Western Michigan University for international students and scholars will never ask a person to send their Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number via email, and they should not include that information when sending in a request for support via email.

Filing a tax return is the only way to apply for a tax refund; there is no separate application form.

Substitute Form 1040 Fax Scam

This scam consists of a cover letter and form that are faxed, rather than emailed. The cover letter is addressed “Dear Valued Tax Payer” and appears to be signed by an IRS employee. The letter states that the IRS is updating its files and that recipients who supply the requested information will receive a nominal tax refund. It also states that those who fail to immediately return the completed form risk having additional taxes withheld.

A form attached to the scam email, labeled a substitute Form 1040 and titled “Certificate of Current Status of Beneficial Owner For United States Tax Recertification and Withholding,” requests a large amount of detailed personal and financial information, such as mother’s maiden name (often used in security screening), bank account numbers, estimated assets and more. It asks the recipient to sign and fax back the completed form, as well as a copy of the recipient’s driver’s license and passport.

The letter, signature and form are all fraudulent. The IRS does not send unsolicited faxes to taxpayers and does not request such detailed personal and financial information.