In the following article, Optima Tax Relief reviews steps taxpayers can take to protect themselves from scammers claiming to be affiliated with the Internal Revenue Service or agencies responsible for issuing economic impact payments.
After the announcement that the Treasury Department and the IRS would be distributing relief payments to people impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, there have been reports of an increase in email and telephone attempts by unknown entities claiming to represent the IRS. These are unauthorized contacts fraudulently claiming governmental agency affiliation in order to steal personal financial information.
Here are a few of the strategies that scammers use to get your attention:
- Use the phrase “stimulus payment” or “stimulus check.” The official phrase is Economic Impact Payment.
- Indicate that there is some problem with issuing your payment requiring your immediate attention/action.
- Ask for banking information by phone or email.
- Tell you that they can get you your payment faster by acting as your intermediary.
- Send you a fake check with a phone number where you can verify your information.
- Tell you that retirees or recipients of Social Security benefits have to provide additional information over the phone to receive their impact payment.
The IRS never calls or emails taxpayers for the purpose of “verifying” personal financial information. If you receive an email or phone call claiming to be from the IRS or a representative working on behalf of the IRS, here is what you can do to protect yourself.
- Do not open any unsolicited communications claiming to be from the IRS. If you get an unsolicited email that appears to be from the IRS, forward it to phishing@IRS.gov.
- If anyone attempts to call you claiming to be from the IRS and demanding information, hang up and call your local IRS field office. Do not call any number that is either given to you by the unsolicited caller or listed in the unsolicited email – go to IRS.gov to find the correct contact information for your local IRS office.
- Do not respond to any attempts to contact you via social media. IRS representatives never attempt to contact individual taxpayers via social media message.
If you have fallen victim to a scammer, you can report it on the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.
The IRS posts updated information about COVID-19-related issues and news about economic impact payments on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page. Additional information can also be found on the U.S. Treasury coronavirus webpage.