This tax season, scammers have a new way of stealing your your money — by sending you some.

After using stolen data to send refunds to taxpayers' real bank accounts, a scammer will pose as a debt collector, and come looking for the money back. The scammer will say the money was erroneously deposited in the account (it was) and should be forwarded to a purported collection agency (it shouldn't — the "collection agency" is part of the scam.)

One defense, according to Eatontown credit repair specialist Paul Oster, "is to try and file your taxes as soon as possible."

Oster, CEO of Better Qualified, says some scammers get your info by hacking tax preparers' accounts.

 

He said a lot of tax filers have lost a lot of money to hackers and scammers around the tax season.  The thieves may have gotten your information from a tax preparer. They may have gotten information from the Equifax data breach, or any the other hundreds of data breaches that have taken place.

 

"You are talking about tens of millions of dollars. The IRS had more than doubled the level of employees dedicated to working identity theft cases years ago. And it is simply not enough," he said.

And if you think you have been ripped off, contact the IRS, Oster said. He advises filling out form 14039, an identity theft affidavit, as soon as possible. The IRS also has a dedicated hotline for identity theft issues — 800-908-4490.

"You would also alert all of the three major credit bureaus that you have been a victim of identity theft," he said.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.

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