International Students & Scholars Office

Warning Against Tax Scams


The IRS would NEVER contact you via email regarding your tax return. NEVER provide your SSN/ITIN to anyone via an email.

Refund e-Mail Scam

There are several variations of the refund scam, in which an e-mail claiming to come from the IRS 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.


Filing a tax return is the only way to apply for a tax refund; there is no separate application form. Taxpayers who wish to find out if they are due a refund from their last annual tax return filing may use the
“Where’s My Refund” link at www.irs.gov - the only official IRS Web site.


Substitute Form 1040 Fax Scam

This scam consists of a cover letter and form that are faxed, rather than e-mailed. The cover letter is addressed “Dear Valued Tax Payer (sic)” and appears to be signed by an IRS employee. The letter says 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 additional tax and withholding. 

The attached form is labeled a substitute Form 1040 and is titled “Certificate of Current Status of Beneficial Owner For United States Tax Recertification & Withholding.” It 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. Moreover, the IRS does not send unsolicited faxes to taxpayers and does not request such detailed personal and financial information.