BALTIMORE, MD—U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur and Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) on Friday warned taxpayers to be alert about possible scams relating to COVID-19, especially in connection with economic impact payments.
The announcement is an effort to prevent taxpayers in need from being victimized by criminals using the recently approved payments as an opportunity to commit a crime.
“My office and the entire law enforcement community are committed to bringing to justice fraudsters who are preying on citizens during this unprecedented public health crisis,” said Hur. “We will also continue our outreach efforts to make the public aware of scams and frauds. I urge citizens to remain vigilant and to be skeptical of any telephone calls, e-mails, or websites that request personal information or banking information, while promising money or services that seem too good to be true.”
“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.”
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 individuals to sign their checks to them or get them to “verify” their filing information in order to steal their 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.
U.S. Attorney Hur and Special Agent in Charge Jackson offer 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 number, debit account number, 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 e-mails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal identifying information or clicking on links, delete these texts and e-mails. Do NOT click on any links in those texts or e-mails.
- Reports are swirling about bogus checks. If you receive a “check” in the mail now, it’s a scam. It will take the Treasury Department 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.