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April 13, 2020
As the coronavirus economic stimulus package gets underway, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) has urged taxpayers to be wary of fraudulent schemes involving the payments. And, to be on the lookout for a surge of calls and email phishing attempts about coronavirus, which can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft.
The five most common Economic Impact Payment scams we can expect are:
1) Phishing Attempts
This is the type of scam where we expect to see people most commonly victimized. In fact, this one is all over the place already. Taxpayers should watch not only for emails but text messages, websites and social media attempts that request money or personal information. Here’s how it works.
2) Advance Fees
You may receive a message saying you need to pay an advance fee in order to get your stimulus check.
3) Fake Checks
Bogus checks are being distributed. If you receive a “check” in the mail now, it is a fraud. It will take the Department of Treasury a few weeks to mail the legitimate checks to taxpayers. It is reported the IRS will start sending paper stimulus checks the week of May 4th.
In some cases, you could get a check in the mail that looks official but is actually fake. Here’s how the scam works.
4) “Verifying” Scams and False Tax Returns
Fraudsters may contact you regarding your economic impact payment and try to have you “verify” your filing information in order to steal your money. Your personal information could then be used to file false tax returns, among other identity theft schemes.
5) Fraud Targeting Retirees
If you’re a retiree who doesn’t normally have a requirement to file a tax return, no action on your part is needed to receive your economic impact payment.
Coronavirus Stimulus Package Scam Warning Signs
It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish the difference between a genuine email or message and a scam. Here are some of the key warning signs to look out for:
Criminals are working hard to trick you into getting their hands on your economic impact payment. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division is working hard to find these scammers and shut them down, but in the meantime, we ask that you remain vigilant. If you’re suspicious of “IRS” tax fraud, please don’t hesitate to call us.
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