IRS Warns Taxpayers About COVID-19 Scams Related to Economic Impact Payments

IRS Warns Taxpayers About COVID-19 Scams Related to Economic Impact Payments

The IRS has issued a warning to taxpayers to be cautious about phishing scams pertaining to IRS payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.  These scams can lead to serious tax-related fraud and identity theft.  Taxpayers should be mindful of this if they receive any phone calls, emails, text messages, social media or website requests for money or personal information.  Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone.

How do I know if it’s a scam?

The IRS will not call you asking you to verify your financial information so you can receive an economic impact payment or expedited refund.  If you have a direct deposit account set up with the IRS for tax return filing purposes, you will receive your economic impact payment into that account via direct deposit in most cases.  If you have not previously set up direct deposit information with IRS, you will be able to provide your banking information online through a newly designed secure portal on IRS.gov in mid-April.  If direct deposit is not set up, a check will be mailed to you directly.  You should never have to provide any of your banking or direct deposit information to anyone.  If you are unsure about something, you can visit IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information.

If you are a retiree (including anyone who receives Forms SSA-1099 and RBR-1099) who does not normally have a filing requirement, you need not do anything to receive your economic impact payment.  No one from IRS will contact you in any way about receiving your payment.

Red Flags to watch out for:

  • Scammers are currently emphasizing the words “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” The official term is economic impact payment.
  • Requests for you to sign over your economic impact payment check to someone.
  • Requests 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 your economic impact payment.
  • Suggestions that someone can help you get a tax refund or economic impact payment expedited. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.
  • Receiving a bogus check in the mail, perhaps in an odd amount, where the mailing tells the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.

The IRS Criminal Investigation Division is investigating these scams and shutting them down, but in the meantime, they are warning the public to be extra careful during this time.  If you have been a victim of one of these scamming attempts, you can email phishing@irs.gov.  To read more about reporting suspected scams visit the Report Phishing and Online Scams page on IRS.gov.  Official IRS information about the COVID-19 pandemic and economic impact payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page on IRS.gov. The page is updated quickly when new information is available.

Disclaimer

This communication is for general informational purposes only which may or may not reflect the most current developments. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or a recommended course of action in any given situation. This communication is not intended to be, and should not be, relied upon by the recipient in making decision of a legal nature with respect to the issues discussed herein. The recipient is encouraged to consult an independent licensed attorney before making any decision or taking any action concerning the matters in this communication. This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship between Andreozzi Bluestein LLP and the recipient.

Any links to other web sites are not intended to be referrals or endorsements of these sites. The links provided are maintained by the respective organizations, and they are solely responsible for the content of their own sites.

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