Income Tax Refund Phishing Scam has been happening for the past few years wherein you would be sent an email regarding refund of the excess tax paid. The email states that your Income Tax Refund Status has been approved and to claim the Refund, click on the link given in that email.
The Income Tax Department, via its official Twitter handle, has asked taxpayers to steer clear of phishing links in the name of tax refunds. The department in its tweet said, “Taxpayers Beware! Please do not click on any fake link which promises to give refund. These are phishing messages and are not sent by the Income Tax Department.”
When you click on the link stated in that email, it will take you to a website which would look exactly similar to the Income Tax Govt website. However, when you check the link of this website it would be different from the official income tax website.
The fake website that opens asks you for your Bank and Credit/Debit Card Details (including your Password and PIN No.) for the purpose of paying the Income Tax Refund due to you. However, as this is fake – the only purpose of making you submit these details is because the hackers would now have access to your Bank and Credit/Debit Card details and can use it for their own purpose.
Many such cases have come to light wherein the hackers behind this scam have withdrawn funds from bank accounts through such fake emails. The Govt is still trying to catch the hackers, but has been unsuccessful in doing so.
Correct Method of Checking your Income Tax Refund Status
If you’ve applied for a Refund, you can check the Income Tax Refund Status by entering your PAN Card No. and the Assessment Year on the following website:-https://tin.tin.nsdl.com/oltas/refundstatuslogin.html
If the Refund has been made, it would also be reflected in your Form 26AS which can also be viewed online.
The Refund is made either by directly transferring funds to your Bank Account or through Cheque (depending on which option you selected while filing your Income Tax Return)
Your Income Tax Refund Status can also be checked by contacting SBI which is the sole Refund Banker for making the Refund at 18004259760 (Toll Free) or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For any Refund related query, the taxpayer should contact 0124 2438000 or email at email@example.com.
The message sent by the hackers almost seems genuine, i.e., almost as if it has been sent by the tax department. “Due to COVID-19 outbreak, Central Govt. has decided to provide tax refund to all tax payers. In order to provide them financial ease during lockdown. Click the link below.”
This is a tactic used to many scammsters. Not too long ago, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India and the Reserve Bank of India had put out cautionary messages asking people not to fall prey to fake links.
The tax department has asked taxpayers to be wary of links sent via SMS/email. The official link of the tax department website is https://www.incometaxindia.gov.in and https://www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/home.
Remember, if any income tax refund is due and it is being adjusted against the previous year outstanding tax demand, then you will be required to log in to your account on the e-filing website mentioned above and then respond to it.
The tax department has also asked the taxpayers to forward the email or link of the website pretending to be the tax department at firstname.lastname@example.org.