The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued several warnings for taxpayers to be on the lookout for a surge of phishing attempts about COVID-19. They state that these attempts are no longer coming just by email or phone call, but are now received through text messages, websites, and social media attempts. Fraudsters usually are requesting money, personal information, or requiring some form of verification to deposit or receive your stimulus check. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division is working to find these scammers; however, they ask that people remain vigilant to avoid falling victim to a stimulus check scam.
Although anyone could be a victim, the IRS has found that retirees are among potential targets. In most cases, the IRS will deposit economic impact payments into the direct deposit account that was previously provided for tax returns. For those that have previously filed, but had not provided direct deposit information, they can provide their banking information to a newly designed secure portal on IRS.gov in mid-April. If the IRS does not have your direct deposit information, then they will mail economic impact payments to taxpayers via check. It is important to note that retirees who don’t normally have a requirement to file a tax return will not need to take action to receive their stimulus payment.
The IRS has provided a list of clues to help taxpayers determine if they are being targeted by a scammer:
- The message emphasizes the words “stimulus check” or “stimulus payment.” The official term is economic impact payment.
- The taxpayer is asked to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
- Asked by phone, email, text, or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information to speed up the process in receiving their economic impact payment.
- Suggest that they can get their economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer’s behalf.
- Receiving a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, and then being told to call a number or verify the information online in order to cash it.
Taxpayers are encouraged to report Coronavirus-related or other phishing attempts to the IRS. Should you receive a phishing attempt that looks like it is coming from the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, you can forward it to email@example.com. Do not engage with potential scammers online or over the phone. You can learn more about reporting suspected scams on the Report Phishing and Online Scams page on the IRS.gov website. For the most up-to-date information on stimulus check scams, visit IRS.gov.