Crises can bring out the best in many people — but perversely, they can also bring out the worst. Many scammers are trying to take advantage of the complex bailout provisions for individuals and businesses. Be on the lookout for a surge of calls and emails from scammers trying to cheat you with promises of financial relief, just when you may be feeling desperate. Tax-related fraud and identity theft scammers are out and about looking to make a quick — and crooked — buck.
The IRS is urging everyone to take extra care, especially regarding the $1,200 checks that are on their way:
- The IRS isn't going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get your economic impact payment or your refund faster. No one at the IRS will contact you by phone, email, mail, or in-person asking for any kind of information to complete your economic impact payment, which also has been referred to as your rebate or stimulus payment.
- Nor is the IRS going to send you a special application email. Don't open the email; don't click on attachments or links. Always go straight to the source, IRS.gov, which will have the most up-to-date data.
Below are some general tips to keep safe from scammers:
- Watch out for emails, text messages, websites, and social media attempts that request money or personal information. 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 — hoping to trick people so they can get their hands on our payments.
- If you haven't provided direct deposit information to the IRS, there will be a newly designed secure portal on IRS.gov in mid-April. Do not provide your direct deposit or any other banking information to anyone who says they'll input your information on any portals.
- Retirees beware: No one from the IRS will be reaching out to you by phone, email, mail, or in-person asking for any kind of information to complete your economic impact payment. The IRS is sending these $1,200 payments automatically to retirees — no additional action or information is needed on your part to receive this.
- Watch out for scammers who use the words "Stimulus Check" or "Stimulus Payment." You work directly with the government on these — you don't need any "help" from third parties.
- Don't sign over your economic impact payment check to anyone.
- Don't give in to anyone — whether on the phone, through email, by text messages or on social media — who is pressuring you for verification of personal and/or banking information. Scammers will promise that this will speed up your payment. Don't believe anyone who says that they'll get you your payment faster.
- Watch out for bogus checks in an odd amount. Scammers will tell you that you need to call a number to verify the information to be able to cash it. Don't fall for it!
How you can report coronavirus-related and other phishing attempts:
- Forward any unsolicited emails, text messages, or social media attempts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Learn more about 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.
Don't get swindled out of $1,200! Anyone who asks you for personal or financial information to get your $1,200 federal payment is not legit.
Do not be victimized by these fraudsters. If you need additional information about the above article or other individual services, contact Lisa Albritton, EA at (334) 887-7022 or by leaving us a message below.