Date: April 1, 2020
St. Petersburg, FL – Today, Special Agent in Charge Mary Hammond of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS CI) warns all taxpayers to be on the lookout for fraud related to the COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments. SAC Hammond echoes previous warnings from Florida's three United States Attorneys and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. At every level, law enforcement is prepared to vigilantly prosecute any fraud resulting from the COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments.
"The U.S. Attorney's Office stands ready to assist our partners in bringing forth relief to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic," said U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, Maria Chapa Lopez. "We will prioritize the investigation and prosecution of anyone who seeks to exploit those affected by this national crisis."
COVID-19 economic impact payments will be on their way in a matter of weeks. For most Americans, this will be a direct deposit into your bank account. For the unbanked, elderly 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 money from the government from the COVID-19 economic impact payment is at risk.
"Fraudsters constantly look for opportunities to rip you off. They should be warned: even through these challenging times, IRS Special Agents will continue to combat fraud with unwavering zeal," stated Special Agent in Charge Mary Hammond. "The Economic Impact Payments going out to American taxpayers should foster hope and confidence, but unfortunately, we know con artists lie in wait to prey upon the unsuspecting. Don't be fooled! As always, education is our best defense. Fraud stops when there is no profit in it for criminals. Help law enforcement fight the fraud by avoiding these scams! Please help us spread the word."
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. Special Agent in Charge Hammond offers the following information and tips to spot a scam:
- The IRS will not call and ask you to verify your payment details. Do not give out your bank account, debit account, or PayPal 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. It's a fraud!
- Reports are also swirling about bogus checks. If you receive a "check" in the mail now, it's a fraud. It will take the Treasury a few weeks to mail those out. If you get 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 fake!
Don't become a victim by allowing criminals to exploit your emotions. Stay strong! It is imperative that we unite together during this trying time, and keeping each other informed is a vital part of that. Education is our best defense against fraud. Please, tell your family, friends, and neighbors about these scams.
For more information, visit the IRS website at IRS.gov/coronavirus.