Do Not Become A Victim Of Coronavirus Scams

Scammers have already coming up with schemes to defraud taxpayers anxious over the promise of economic stimulus checks promised by the CARES Act. Identity thieves are using confusion over the stimulus checks to convince victims to turn over personally-identifying information.

In one scam, callers suggest that you might qualify for a special COVID-19 government grant and that it's necessary to first verify your identity to process your request. Variations on the scheme involve contacts through text messages, social media posts, and messages.

Other variations on the scam suggest that you can get more money from the government - or get your stimulus check faster - if you share personal details and pay a small "processing fee." Do not fall for it.

The IRS will deposit your check into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return, or if there is none, 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, debit account, or PayPal account information - even if someone claims it's necessary to get your stimulus check. It's a scam.

If you receive a call, just hang up, IMMEDIATELY. If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal information or clicking on links, DELETE, DON’T CLICK. Bogus checks have even been reported. If you receive a “stimulus check” in the mail now, the first week of April, it’s a fraud - it will take the Treasury a few weeks (4-6?) to mail those out. If you receive a “stimulus 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. No one will call or text you to verify your personal information or bank account details in order to "release" the funds.

Be cautious if you're being pressured to share any information or make a payment. The FCC also warns that "Small businesses are also getting scam calls about virus-related funding or loans and online listing verification." Again, you don't have to do anything (other than perhaps file a previously unfiled tax return) to qualify for your stimulus check. There's no need to sign up or call the IRS: you can find more information - when the IRS makes it available - at www.irs.gov/coronavirus.

Remember that the IRS will never:
• Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
• Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested.
• Demand that you pay taxes without allowing you to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
• Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer.
• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
 
Please contact the FBI at www.ic3.gov so that the scammers can be tracked and stopped. Fraud involving payment of Federal taxes should be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration: https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/index.shtml