IRS warns of economic impact payment scams


CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) is warning taxpayers to be alert about possible scams relating to COVID-19 economic impact payments.

Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-CI Washington DC Field Office, made the announcement in an effort to prevent taxpayers in need from being victimized by criminals using the recently approved payments as an opportunity to commit a crime.

“During this time of crisis, scammers and thieves prey on those most vulnerable in our community in an attempt to personally benefit by stealing their money and personal identifying information,” said Jackson. “Please help us protect everyone in your community by telling family, friends and elderly neighbors to be on the lookout for these potential scams.”

“Our district is on high alert for these types of tax related scams. Remember that if it sounds to be good to be true, it likely is. The best way to avoid being a victim is to educate yourself beforehand. If you are unsure, reach out to the IRS. They will provide the information you need. And please, report any suspicious activity so that it can be investigated and prosecuted,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Powell, Northern District of West Virginia.

“The stimulus is intended to help the nation and its citizens make it through the terrible COVID ordeal. It isn’t intended to be a funding source for fraudsters or scammers. We won’t tolerate fraudsters or scammers ripping off people who desperately need the money to get by and put food on their table,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Scammers seeking to steal money from our residents will be prosecuted, make no mistake about it, to the fullest extent of the law. This is a challenging time for our state and for our country, and those seeking to benefit through illegal means will face the severest of consequences.”

In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 economic impact payments will be on their way. For most
Americans, this will be a direct deposit into a bank account. For the unbanked individuals who
have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check, they will receive their economic impact payment through the mail, according to the IRS.

Scammers may try to get people to sign over their checks or get them to “verify” their filing information in order to steal money. Personal information could then be used to file false tax returns in an identity theft scheme. Because of this, everyone receiving a COVID-19 economic impact payment is at risk, the IRS stated.

Jackson offers the following information and tips to spot a scam and understand how the COVID-19 related economic impact payments will be issued.

  • The IRS will deposit payments into a direct deposit account previously provided on a tax return (or, in the alternative, send a paper check).
  • The IRS will NOT call and ask people to verify their payment details. 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.
  • For anyone who receives a call, do NOT engage with scammers, even to tell them that you know it’s a scam. Just hang up.
  • Scammers may send texts or emails claiming that recipients can get their money faster by sending personal identifying information or by clicking on links. Delete these texts and emails. Do NOT click on any links in those texts or emails.
  • Reports are swirling about bogus checks. If anyone receives a “check” in the mail now, it is a scam. It will take the Treasury a few more weeks to mail out the COVID-19 economic impact payments. If anyone receives a “check” for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires verification online or by calling a number, it is a scam.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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