Tax Refund Scams and How to Avoid Them

If you claim to the IRS that your tax refund check has not been received it is the responsibility of the IRS to prove that they mailed the check to the correct address. If the IRS is able to prove that they did indeed mail the check to you, it is then your responsibility to prove to the IRS that it was lost, stolen, or just simply never received by you. If you can in fact prove this to the IRS, they will issue you a new refund.

Form 3911 for Tax Refund Scams & Problems

If you ever are in this situation you must file Form 3911 which is the form used by a taxpayer to request a new tax refund check from the IRS. If your claim is valid and the IRS agrees with your claim they will simply mail you a new refund check. Below is Form 3911:

Example of Form 3911.


In very rare cases, there may be an error regarding a direct deposit. This error can either come from the IRS or your actual bank. Depending on who made the mistake in direct depositing your refund into the wrong account will bear the responsibility of fixing the problem. If the bank is the one that has misplaced your refund, you will have to work with the bank and not the IRS to request your money.

Tracking Your Refund

If you wish to check the status of your refund there are quite a few ways to go about it. The first is to call the IRS directly at 800-829-1954. This is the Hotline the IRS uses to give customer support to taxpayers that wish to know the status of their refund. The next way you can find information regarding the status of your refund is to visit and click on “Where’s My Refund?”. This will direct you to a webpage that can assist you in finding out everything you need to know about your federal tax refund.

A new way the IRS has developed for taxpayers to check the status of their refund is through a smartphone application called “IRS2GO”. Simply download the application to your smartphone, provide the necessary identification information and you will receive updates regarding your tax refund.

Depending on when you actually filed your return should dictate when you should start requesting information about your tax refund. If you file your return by paper it is best practice to wait three to four weeks before calling or visiting the IRS website. If you file your return electronically, you should wait three to four days.

In some cases, you will check the status of your refund and be informed that it is going to be delayed for various reasons. Some of these reasons include math errors on your return that the IRS is going to have to spend extra time correcting, wrong identification information that does not match the IRS records, or failure to sign the tax return. There are many other reasons that could delay your refund from being sent to you but these are the main issues that come up year after year.

How to Avoid Tax Refund Scams

The main scams that you may run across during tax time involve email phishing and attacks against your computer to steal your personal and financial information. The IRS wants every taxpayer to know that it will never send you any type of email requesting passwords, identification information, bank information, tax return information, or any type of information that would be considered confidential and personal.

Make sure that if you get one of these emails that you forward it to This email was setup specifically for taxpayers to report email scams to the IRS in attempt to shut down various fraudulent organizations. It can be very hard to shut down all of the scams on the internet but any little help you can give to the IRS, the better.

If you receive a phone call regarding your tax return or other tax information, simply take down the information of the phone representative that is calling you and call the IRS directly. Do not assume that the person on the other line is actually an IRS employee. It is possible that they are just claiming to be an IRS employee to get personal information from you. It is better to verify their identity by calling the IRS back at their 1800 number.

About Paul Gaulkin CPA

Paul Gaulkin is a Certified Public Accountant and enrolled with the U.S. Treasury to practice before the IRS. Mr. Gaulkin possesses unique technical knowledge in the process of securing relief for taxpayers nationwide with IRS and State tax problems. With an accounting degree from Florida International University, he is able to transform complex tax and accounting problems into easy to understand solutions.

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