On March 27, 2020, President Trump authorized an emergency universal income payment of $1,200 for most American adults making less than $75,000 income per year as part of a $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. These payments will begin to be distributed around the second week of April.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a statement urging taxpayers to be on the lookout for a surge of scam attempts related to Coronavirus and the Economic Impact Payments as they can lean to tax-related fraud and identity theft. Commissioner Chuck Rettig states, "We urge people to take extra care during this period. 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. That also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Remember, don't open them or click on attachments or links. Go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information."
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These scam attempts may come in the form of emails, text messages, websites, and social media attempts that request money or personal information.
IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Don Fort shares, "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. 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 IRS shares the following approaches that a criminal may use to get their hands on your Economic Impact Payment:
- 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.
- 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.
How can I protect myself from falling victim to scams related to the Economic Impact Payment?
- Remember that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or social media channels to request personal or financial information.
- Know that the address of the official IRS website is www.irs.gov. Do not be misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org, or anything other than .gov. If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS, but you suspect it is bogus, do not provide any personal information on their site and report it to the IRS.
- If you receive a phone call, fax or letter in the mail from an individual claiming to be from the IRS but you suspect they are not an IRS employee, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate need to contact you. Report any bogus correspondence. Forward a suspicious email to email@example.com
- Install Browser Protection. Browser protection products scan each of the websites you visit and extensions you add to ensure that they're free of malicious code and scams, including phishing scams. If you receive an email with a bad link, Guardio will alert you of the threat BEFORE it reaches your computer and before a criminal has an opportunity to trick you.