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By Marcia Richards Suelzer, Toolkit Staff Writer
As surprising as it may sound to the average taxpayer, each year the IRS ends up with millions of dollars in unclaimed refund checks that could not be delivered because of mailing errors. This year the total amounts to $153.3 million: Almost 100,000 taxpayers have left an average of $1,547 "on deposit" with the IRS.
If you think your refund check may have been returned to the IRS as undeliverable, you can find out by using the "Where's My Refund?" tool on www.IRS.gov. This tool, which is available 24/7, will provide you with the status of your refund and, in some cases, instructions on how to resolve delivery problems.
Warning. The IRS does not contact taxpayers by e-mail to alert them of pending refunds. The IRS does not ask for personal or financial information via email. Any such email message is a phishing scams--and these are very common this time of year.
If you receive such messages do not release any personal information, reply, open any attachments or click on any links, so as to avoid any identity theft or malicious viruses infecting your computers. The best way for an individual to verify if she or he has a pending refund is by going directly to IRS.gov and using the "Where's My Refund?" tool.
If you have difficulty using the online version of "Where's My Refund," you can access a telephone version by calling 1-800-829-1954. Taxpayers checking on a refund over the phone will receive instructions on how to update their addresses.
Think Ahead. Although only a small percentage of checks mailed out by the IRS are returned as undelivered, you can make sure yours is not one of them by choosing direct deposit when you file either paper or electronic returns. This also eliminates any worries about a stolen check. And, as an added bonus, you will get access to your refund more quickly.