Scammers target COVID-19 Payments
Roseville, CA- The Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers to be on the lookout for phone calls and email phishing attempts relating to the COVID 19 Economic Impact Payments.
These contacts can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft. Taxpayers should watch not only for emails but text messages, websites and social media attempts that request money or personal information.
The IRS reminds taxpayers that scammers may:
- Emphasize the words “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” The official term is economic impact payment.
- Ask the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
- Ask by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information saying that the information is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact payment. Do NOT give bank account, debit account, or PayPal account information to anyone – even if someone claims it is necessary to get a check. It is a scam. If you receive a call, do NOT engage with scammers, even to tell them that you know it’s a scam. Just hang up.
- Suggest that they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer’s behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.
- Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.
Additional information on the COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments from the IRS:
- The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible.
- For people who have already filed their 2019 tax returns, the IRS will use this information to calculate the payment amount. For those who have not yet filed their return for 2019, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax filing to calculate the payment. The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return filed.
- If the IRS does not have your direct deposit information, the Treasury Department plans to develop a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online, so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.
- The IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 and Form RRB-1099 to generate $1,200 Economic Impact Payments to Social Security recipients or railroad retirees who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. Recipients will receive these payments as a direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their benefits.
Criminals will take every opportunity to perpetrate a fraud on unsuspecting victims. Therefore, it is important for everyone to remain vigilant.
The IRS will post all key information on IRS.gov/coronavirus as soon as it becomes available.