IRS-Criminal Investigation warns of potential COVID-19 economic impact payment scams


Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) warns taxpayers to be alert about possible scams relating to COVID-19 economic impact payments.

Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the IRS-CI Washington DC Field Office, made the announcement today 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 SAC 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 your 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.

Scammers may try to get you to sign over your check to them or get you to “verify” your filing information in order to steal your money. Your 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.

Special Agent in Charge 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 your payment 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 your bank account, debit account, or PayPal account information to anyone - even if someone claims it's necessary to get your check. It's a scam.
  • If you receive a call, do NOT engage with scammers, even if you want to tell them that you know it's a scam. Just hang up.
  • If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal identifying information or 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 you receive a “check” in the mail now, it’s a scam. It will take the Treasury a few more weeks to mail out the COVID-19 economic impact payments. If you receive a “check” for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires you to verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a scam.

In these uncertain and trying times, we need to remain vigilant. You work hard for your money, do NOT become a victim of these scams.

For more information, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/coronavirus

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