Catch Of The Week: IRS Warning Over COVID-19 Stimulus Payment Scams

first_imgBy BECKY RUTHERFORDLos AlamosIRS Warning:The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a warning on April 2nd, urging taxpayers to be on the lookout for incoming calls and phishing attempts about the COVID-19 stimulus payments.According to the IRS website, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said, “We urge people to take extra care during this period. The IRS isn’t going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster. That also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Remember, don’t open them or click on attachments or links. Go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information.”In addition to fraudulent emails, watch out for text messages, phone calls, websites, and social media messages attempting to request money or personal information.No Action Needed to Get Funds:In most cases, the IRS will deposit these “economic impact payments” to the direct deposit account previously provided by the taxpayer, no additional action is required. Taxpayers who already filed but did not give direct deposit information to the IRS will be able to provide their banking info online to a newly designed secure portal on IRS.gov in mid-April. If the IRS does not have a taxpayer’s direct deposit info, a check will be mailed to the address on file.If someone calls offering to input information on your behalf to the secure portal, it’s a scam. Do not provide them with any information.Beware of lookalike emails or websites trying to trick you into giving out your personal information. Only trust the official IRS website, https://www.irs.gov/ and always verify you are on the legitimate site before entering any information.Retirees at risk:Retirees who don’t usually have a requirement to file a tax return will not have to take any action to receive their $1200 economic impact payment. Seniors need to be especially careful at this time. The IRS will not be reaching out to seniors by phone, email, mail, or in-person asking for any information to complete payment; payments are automatic. No additional action or information is required to receive funds.What to watch out for:From the IRS’s website; the IRS reminds taxpayers that scammers may:Emphasize the words “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” The official term is economic impact payment.Ask the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.Ask 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 their economic impact payment.Suggest that they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer’s behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, and then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online to cash it.If a scammer contacts you, do not engage! Delete the email or message, throw the letter away, or hang up on the call. You can report suspected scams here: https://www.irs.gov/privacy-disclosure/report-phishing or just forward the email to [email protected] IRS information about the COVID-19 payments can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus-tax-relief-and-economic-impact-paymentsEditor’s note: Becky Rutherford works in information technology at Los Alamos National Laboratory.last_img

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