Date: April 3, 2020
ST. LOUIS, MO - Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) cautioned taxpayers today to be alert for possible scams relating to COVID-19 economic impact payments
Karl Stiften, Special Agent in Charge of the St. Louis Field Office of IRS Criminal Investigation, made the announcement today in an effort to prevent taxpayers in need from being victimized by criminals using the recently approved payments as an opportunity to commit a crime.
"The existence of a deadly national pandemic will not stop criminals seeking to capitalize on the fears and difficulties faced by the public as they try to line their own pockets by stealing your money or your personal information."
For most Americans, this will be a direct deposit into your bank account. For the unbanked, retirees or other groups who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check, they will receive their economic impact payment in this manner as well.
Scammers may try to get you to sign over your check to them or use this as an opportunity to get you to "verify" your filing information in order to receive your money, and then use your personal information at a later date to file false tax returns in an identity theft scheme. Because of this, everyone receiving a COVID-19 related economic impact payment from the government is at risk.
Special Agent in Charge Stiften offers the following information and tips to spot a scam and understand how the COVID-19 related economic impact payments will be issued.
- The IRS will deposit your check into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return (or, in the alternative, send you a paper check).
- The IRS will not call and ask you to verify your payment details. Do not give out your bank account or any other account information - even if someone claims it's necessary to get your check. It's a scam.
- If you receive a call, don't engage with scammers or thieves, even if you want to tell them that you know it's a scam, or you think that you can beat them. Just hang up.
- If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal information or clicking on links, delete them. Don't click on any links in those emails or texts.
- Reports are also swirling about bogus checks. If you receive a "check" for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires that you verify the check online or by calling a number, it's a fraud.
In these uncertain and trying times, we need to stand together united with purpose. Don't become a victim by allowing criminals to exploit your emotions. Stay strong, tell your family, friends and neighbors about these scams.
Special Agent in Charge Stiften warned today, "IRS Criminal Investigation is prepared to investigate and bring to justice those who seek to take advantage of citizens who are the intended recipients of these economic impact payments."