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IRS warns of new wave of COVID-19 scams targeting Hoosier taxpayers

Text messages, emails and phone calls typical
stimulus checks
Posted at 6:00 AM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 08:06:31-05

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Internal Revenue Service has issued a warning about a new wave of scams in which the criminals pose as the IRS offering your second stimulus check.

Here’s how the scam works: you might get an email or social media message about your stimulus payment, also known as an Economic Impact Payment (EIP).

The message may purport to be from the IRS and ask you for some personal or financial information to “process your payment.”

But the IRS says this is a scam.

"Scammers are looking for an opportunity to cash in and steal from honest taxpayers,” said Tamera Cantu, acting special agent in charge of IRS Criminal Investigation for the Chicago field office, which includes Indiana. “That is a scam and the IRS will not be text messaging you to ask you for any personal or financial information.”

The IRS Chicago field office is issuing a warning about a new wave of COVID-19 related scams, this as Hoosiers continue to receive their second stimulus checks.

The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails.

You may also get a phone call from the IRS, and chances are good, that’s a scam too.

"If you do get one of those phone calls, hang up immediately,” Cantu said. “Don't even listen to them."

The IRS does not call people with threats of jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards.

Unfortunately, more people are likely to believe scammers because they so badly need their $600 stimulus check.

"Everyone needs the money right now because the pandemic has caused an economic downturn, but that's what criminals prey upon and that's why they're using this time to steal money,” Cantu said.

The IRS is working with law enforcement to track down scammers, but they need you to report it.

"Please report it so we can look into it,” Cantu said. “We may be able to identify the person that did this."

COVID-19 scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submitted through the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

Taxpayers can also report fraud or theft of their economic impact payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Reports can be made online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.

Taxpayers who receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, should forward the message to phishing@irs.gov.

Taxpayers should not engage potential scammers online or on the phone, according to the IRS.

Here’s a summary of popular COVID-19 scams:

  • Text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 economic impact payments.
  • Phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with key words such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in varying ways. These communications are blasted to large numbers of people and aim to access personally identifying information and financial account information (including account numbers and passwords).
  • The organized and unofficial sale of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits (as well as offers to sell fake cures, vaccines, pills, and professional medical advice regarding unproven COVID-19 treatments).
  • Fake donation requests for individuals, groups and areas heavily affected by the disease.
  • Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result.