Don’t fall for scams surrounding COVID-19 stimulus payments
U.S. Attorney John F. Bash and Acting Special Agent in Charge Rodrick Benton of the IRS–Criminal Investigation’s Houston Field Office has cautioned taxpayers of the opportunity for criminals to steal economic impact payments through various means of deception.
COVID-19 economic impact payments will be on their way from the IRS in a matter of weeks. For most Americans, this will be a direct deposit into your bank account. For the unbanked, elderly or other groups who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check, they will receive their economic impact payment in this manner as well. Everyone receiving a COVID-19 related economic impact payment from the government is at risk. Criminals have already begun deceiving taxpayers through unsolicited phone calls, emails, text messages or other communications purporting to be from the IRS in attempts to steal these payments.
“My office will be aggressive in targeting anyone who attempts to steal from the American people during this time of national emergency,” said U.S. Attorney Bash. “I urge members of the public to report scams and other illegal activity to law-enforcement authorities.”
If anyone believes that they or their family are the victims of a scam or attempted fraud involving these stimulus payments, they can report it without leaving their home. Please contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or by email at email@example.com. If it is a cyber scam, they may also submit a complaint at www.ic3.gov.
“While the Nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, criminals see an opportunity to enrich themselves through fraudulent schemes,” warned Acting Special Agent in Charge Benton. “With the public’s awareness, we can combat these scammers and cease their exploitation of the American taxpayer during these trying times.”
IRS – Criminal Investigation has provided the following guidance to identify potential scams.
- The IRS will deposit your check into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return (or, in the alternative, send you a paper check).
- The IRS will not call and ask you to verify your payment details. Do not give out your bank account, debit account, or PayPal account information – even if someone claims it’s necessary to get your check. It’s a scam.
- If you receive a call, don’t engage with scammers or thieves, even if you want to tell them that you know it’s a scam, or you think that you can beat them. Just hang up.
- If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal information or clicking on links, delete them. Don’t click on any links in those emails or texts.
- Reports are also swirling about bogus checks. If you receive a “check” in the mail now, it’s a fraud – it will take the Treasury a few weeks to mail those out. If you receive a “check” for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires that you verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a fraud.
For more information, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/coronavirus.