Date: April 16, 2020
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Today the Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force issued a warning to the public of financial scams regarding Economic Impact Payments currently being distributed by the IRS.
"Fraudsters are chomping at the bit to steal your money," said G. Zachary Terwilliger, co-leader of the task force and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. "We have reports of criminals attempting to use various phishing techniques, including text messages, emails, and letters delivered through the mail, all attempting to steal your personal information or swindle you out of your economic impact payment. Please be vigilant. Simply put: Hang up on robocalls, do not provide your personal identifying information to anyone, and always confirm you are accessing legitimate links from IRS.gov."
For most Americans, the Economic Impact Payments will be directly deposited into their bank account. However, for those individuals who do not utilize direct deposit, and other groups who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check, they will receive their economic impact payment as a hard check.
"Americans will receive their economic-impact payments in one of two ways: through the mail or by direct deposit into their bank accounts," said Thomas T. Cullen, co-leader of the task force and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia. "These payments do not need to be confirmed, authorized, or activated, and you should assume that any unsolicited calls or emails from individuals or entities who claim to be associated with the IRS are fraudulent."
Recently, IRS launched two new tools: "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here" allows quick registration for Economic Impact Payments for those who don't normally file a tax return and, "Get My Payment" which enables taxpayers to check the status of their payment, including the date their payment is scheduled to be deposited into their bank account or mailed to them.
"Providing the community with knowledge about how economic impact payments are being distributed and warning of potential scams is key in helping prevent taxpayers from becoming victimized," said Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Washington, D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). "Taxpayers needing assistance or information regarding the economic impact payments should visit IRS.gov. When taxpayers access the tool "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here", they will be taken from the IRS.gov site to Free File Fillable Forms, a certified IRS partner. This site is safe and secure as long as you access the site via IRS.gov. IRS-CI is working diligently with the United States Attorney's Office and our federal and state law enforcement partners to help protect the citizens of Virginia and our tax system."
IRS Criminal Investigation is actively working to combat scam artists trying to exploit economic impact payments and other provisions related to COVID-19. So far, the scams IRS-CI have seen look to prey on vulnerable taxpayers who are unaware of how the payments will reach them. IRS-CI is prioritizing these types of investigations to help protect taxpayers and the tax system.
There has been an increase in phishing schemes utilizing emails, letters, texts and links. These phishing schemes are using keywords such as "Corona Virus", "COVID-19", and "Stimulus" in varying ways.
The Department of Justice remains vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the leadership of Attorney General William Barr, U.S. Attorneys appointed Coronavirus Fraud Coordinators to work with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners to protect the public from scammers who are attempting to prey upon fears. If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For More information about the Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force, please visit:
- Western Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Baudinet, USAVAW.COVID19@usdoj.gov or 540-278-1494.
- Eastern Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kaitlin G. Cooke, Kaitlin.Cooke@usdoj.gov or 804-819-5416.
- To report a COVID-19 fraud scheme or suspicious activity, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling the NCDF Hotline at 866-720-5721 or sending an email to email@example.com.
- Economic Impact Payment Fraud can also be reported directly to the IRS at: WashingtonDCFieldOffice@ci.irs.gov.
- For more information, visit the IRS website at IRS.gov/coronavirus.
- FBI at https://www.ic3.gov or 804-261-1044.
- To report fraudulent activity to the Virginia State Police, Virginians can contact the Virginia Fusion Center (VFC) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For continuing information on the COVID-19 virus and the federal response, check https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.