Watch Out For Schemes Tied to Economic Impact Payments | New Tripoli Bank
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Watch Out For Schemes Tied to Economic Impact Payments

April 14, 2020

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The Internal Revenue Service is urging taxpayers to be on the lookout for a surge of calls and email phishing attempts about the Coronavirus or COVID-19. These contacts can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft.

Remember: the IRS will not call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster. This also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Don't open any links or attachments in emails that say they are from the IRS. Instead, you should go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information.

Be cautious not only of emails but also text messages, websites and social media messages requesting money or personal information. Criminals take every opportunity to perpetrate a fraud on unsuspecting victims, especially when a group of people is in a state of need or especially vulnerable. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division is working hard to find these scammers and shut them down, but in the meantime it’s important to remain vigilant."

Don't Fall Prey to Coronavirus Scams

The IRS and its Criminal Investigation Division have seen a wave of new and evolving phishing schemes against taxpayers. In a majority of cases, the IRS will deposit economic impact payments into the direct deposit account taxpayers previously provided on tax returns. If you have previously filed but not provided direct deposit information to the IRS, you will soon be able to provide your banking information online to a newly-designed secure portal on IRS.gov in mid-April 2020. If the IRS does not have your direct deposit information, a check will be mailed to the address on file.

The IRS will not be reaching out to you via email, text, or other means of messaging to get this information – if you receive any communications asking you for personal or financial information, do not respond! In addition, you should not trust someone else with your direct deposit or other banking information, so that they may input it into the secure portal on your behalf.

Retirees Among Potential Targets

We want to remind retirees who don't normally have to file tax returns: for retirees, no action is required to receive their $1,200 economic impact payment. Seniors should be especially careful during this period. The IRS reminds retirees – including recipients of Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099 − that no one from the agency will be reaching out to you by phone, email, mail or in person asking for any kind of information to complete their economic impact payment. The IRS is sending these $1,200 payments automatically to retirees – no additional action or information is needed on their part to receive this.

It is also important to remember that these payments are called economic impact payments – fraudsters will sometimes refer to them as rebates or stimulus payments and this is a big red flag that the contact is a scam.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that scammers may:

  • 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, then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.
  • Emphasize the words "Stimulus Check" or "Stimulus Payment." The official term is “economic impact payment.”

Reporting Coronavirus-related or other phishing attempts

Those who receive unsolicited emails, text messages or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), should forward it to phishing@irs.gov.

Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone. Learn more about reporting suspected scams by going to 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.


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