Beware of phishing schemes and scams related to Coronavirus economic impact payments

In IR-2020-64 released by the IRS April 2, 2020, the Service warned taxpayers about scam phone calls and phishing emails relating to the Coronavirus economic impact payments set to release in the coming weeks.

Some of these scams are by people claiming to be from the IRS and requesting personal information and financial account information in order to get their economic impact payment to the taxpayer faster. Fraudsters may refer to this payment as a “stimulus check” or “stimulus payment”.  They may request a taxpayer sign over their economic impact payment to them, claim they can help get the payment faster, or even mail taxpayer a bogus check and ask the taxpayer to call a number or “verify” their information online to cash it. The IRS will NOT call, email or text requesting this information! Same holds true for any website or social media posting requesting this information.

The IRS will be using information from your 2019 personal income tax return filing (2018 if it 2019 has not yet been filed) to issue economic impact payments. Most will have their economic impact payments direct deposited into their accounts. The IRS plans to open a secure portal at IRS.GOV in mid-April where taxpayers can provide new direct deposit information if not previously provided. (If you need to provide direct deposit information to the Service once the secure portal is established, MAKE SURE it is the proper link by going directly to IRS.GOV to find the portal. Do not click any links from emails, texts, social media posts, etc. claiming to have the link for the portal). If there is no direct deposit information on file, the IRS will mail you a check to your address on file.

For retirees that do not file income tax returns, no action is needed on their end. The IRS stated that they will be sending the $1,200 payments automatically to retirees even if no return was filed. The IRS reminds retirees (including those receiving Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099) that no one from the IRS or SSA will be reaching out to them by phone, email, mail, text, or in person asking for any information relating to the economic impact payment.

Please share this information with others. As IRS Criminal Investigative Chief Don Fort noted, “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.” These are unique times and circumstances which can easily lead to added confusion. It is vital we all stay extra vigilant.

If you receive any contact (phone, email, text, social media, mailings) that are suspicious, forward these attempts to without engaging the scammers.

In addition, it has come to our attention that, as more and more companies send out corporate updates to their customers, scammers and hackers are using this familiarity to their advantage sending fake corporate emails with malicious attachments. These attachments may allow hackers access to your computers, allowing them to remotely access your information, install malware or spyware, install keyloggers, or lockdown your system with ransomware. Be on the lookout for potentially dangerous emails. Make sure you know the sender and always double check the sender’s email address (make sure there are no slight misspellings, extra hypens, etc.) When in doubt, you can always call the sender (don’t reply to the potentially fraudulent email) to verify.

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