Beware Coronavirus Related Scams
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is urging people to be wary of scams related to the Coronavirus. There may be an influx of calls and phishing emails about COVID-19 that can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft. Seniors are especially at risk, being twice as vulnerable as other age groups.
You should be very careful with emails or phone calls that appear to come from the IRS. "The IRS isn't going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.
Do not open emails that appear to come from the IRS or click on any attachments or links. You can go to IRS.gov for up-to-date information related to your tax refund or COVID-19 economic relief. In addition, scammers may try to contact you through text messages, websites, or social media by requesting money or personal information.
"History has shown that criminals take every opportunity to perpetrate a fraud on unsuspecting victims, especially when a group of people is vulnerable or in a state of need," said IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Don Fort. "While you are waiting to hear about your economic impact payment, criminals are working hard to trick you into getting their hands on it. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division is working hard to find these scammers and shut them down, but in the meantime, we ask people to remain vigilant."
The stimulus checks have resulted in a new wave of scam calls and phishing emails. You should not provide your direct deposit or banking information to any phone call, email, or text message. The IRS will automatically deposit the relief payments into the direct deposit you provided on your tax returns. If you did not provide direct deposit information, you can go to the newly designed secure portal to provide your banking information (available soon). If the IRS has no direct deposit or banking information for you, they will mail your check to the address on file.
Retirees will likely be among scammers top potential targets. There are many retirees who are not normally required to file a tax return. However, retirees do not need to take any action on their part to receive their $1,200 economic impact payment. No one from the IRS will reach out to retirees by phone, email, mail, or in person to request additional information to receive their stimulus check. The IRS will be sending the $1,200 payment automatically to retirees - no additional action or information is needed.
The IRS also provides the following reminders so you can protect yourself and your family:
Scammers may emphasize the words "stimulus check" or "stimulus payment," but the official term is economic impact payment.
Do not sign your economic impact payment check over to anyone.
The IRS will not ask by phone, email, text, or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information in order to receive or speed up your economic impact payment.
Scammers may suggest that you can get your tax refund or economic impact payment faster if they work on your behalf.
Scammers may mail you a bogus check (perhaps an odd amount) and tell you to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.
If you receive any unsolicited emails, text messages, or social media attempts from scammers that may appear to be the IRS or a related organization, you can forward these to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do not engage potential scammers online or on the phone. You can find additional information about reporting suspected scams on the Report Phishing and Online Scams page on IRS.gov.
You can find accurate and up-to-date information about the COVID-19 pandemic and economic impact payments on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page on IRS.gov. Visiting the IRS website directly is the best way to find accurate and current information.
Source: IRS News Release