Scammers file fake federal tax return with H&R Block online, try to steal family’s $10K refund

CHICAGO (WLS) — A family has to battle to get back their $10,000 tax refund after scammers filed in their name.

Edward and Jill Harris were counting on that federal refund to pay for household expenses and now they’re waiting on answers from the IRS and the tax preparer all because of a fake tax filing.

The Harrises have a full house, with three kids, in Joliet.

“It’s very upsetting I never saw anything like this coming,” Jill Harris said.

IRS documentation shows the refund status results of a $10,000 expected refund that they didn’t file.

“I have gotta admit I was highly upset I was extremely upset,” she said. “I have 3-year-old twins and my daughter has special needs. I have a 7-year-old who has a skin condition that requires treatment that has to be paid out of pocket.”

The Harrises said the scammers filed early and online, somehow getting into their H&R Block online account, which had the family’s tax information stored, from last year.

“We made an appointment to go get our taxes done at the local H&R Block,” said Edward Harris. “When we did that, we ended up getting a call back a few days later saying, ‘Hey, why did you guys schedule an appointment when your taxes have already been filed?’ to our surprise.”

They filed a police report and showed the I-Team the fake tax filing they obtained from H&R Block. It shows the refund and banking information from an institution where they don’t have an account.

The filing also has all of the Harris’s personal information, including their children’s social security numbers. Before the scam, they said they received alerts that someone was trying to access their H&R Block online account. They said they immediately called the tax preparer.

“And they assured us that they had resolved it. Well, obviously they didn’t,” Edward said.

H&R Block tells the I-Team this was not a problem with H&R Block or its software, “but rather a situation with their identity being stolen” from somewhere else. On the phone a spokesperson said someone had enough of the couple’s personal information to access the account.

“We take identity protection very seriously,” H&R Block added, and said the company is also looking into the family’s questions about those security alerts. H&R Block said its working with the family to help recover the refund from the IRS and it will offer the family identity theft protection services.

The IRS told the family they need to mail a new paper tax return, which they did. Experts say it can be a long process.

Jill said the theft has been difficult.

“I’ve actually already had to take out some personal loans to manage things that I thought were going to be paid off in March with my refund, which I normally receive in March,” she said.

The IRS said it can’t comment on the case, but if this happens to you, you should fill out an identity theft form with the IRS as soon as possible.

Experts say to file electronically and file early to help to avoid tax scams, but in this case filing early did not help as the scammers beat the family to it several weeks ago.

Here are steps someone can take if they think they may be a victim of identity theft from H&R Block:

  1. File an affidavit with the IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit PDF.
  2. Report incidents of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at or the FTC Identity Theft hotline at 877-438-4338 or TTY 866-653-4261.
  3. File a report with the local police.
  4. Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax –, 800-525-6285 Experian –, 888-397-3742 TransUnion –, 800-680-7289
  5. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

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