IRS: Phishers Using #COVID19 Stimulus Payments as Lure

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning taxpayers of a new wave of phishing calls and messages designed to trick victims into handing over financial details by capitalizing on the COVID-19 pandemic.

A large number of these scams attempt to use as a lure the government’s recent announcement of an economic impact payment of $1200 to every US citizen.

According to the IRS, they might use terms such as “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment” and ask victims to confirm personal and banking information to in order to ‘speed up’ payment.

In similar scams, the phisher could ask victims to sign over an economic impact check to them directly, or else mail them a fake one with an odd amount and then require the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.

The range of these scams, across phone, email, social media, text and even face-to-face, show the lengths fraudsters are prepared to go to tap the huge federal emergency giveaway.

“History has shown that criminals take every opportunity to perpetrate a fraud on unsuspecting victims, especially when a group of people is vulnerable or in a state of need,” said IRS criminal investigation chief, Don Fort.

“While you are waiting to hear about your economic impact payment, criminals are working hard to trick you into getting their hands on it. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division is working hard to find these scammers and shut them down, but in the meantime, we ask people to remain vigilant.”

The IRS reminded taxpayers that in most cases their economic impact payment would be deposited directly into the account previously provided on tax returns. Those who have not previously provided this info will be able to enter their banking details online in a secure IRS portal in April. Otherwise a check will be mailed to the address the IRS has on file.

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