There is one very unfortunate and annoying thing that has gone hand in hand with the federal government Distribution of incentive payments in the past few weeks and months. There is an abundance of stimulus-check scams that can seperate unsuspecting victims from their money if they are not careful.
The IRS sent a warning about certain scams to watch out for after this has basically exploded lately. “Although taxpayers received multiple rounds of Economic Impact Payments, we saw an increase in phishing fraud cases this summer,” said Jim Lee, director of the IRS Criminal Investigation. “The number of reported fraud attempts has reached a level we haven’t seen in more than a decade.”
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IRS warning of stimulus check fraud
Criminals are constantly changing their tactics, warns the IRS. Here are just a few of the schemes to watch out for:
- Text messages stating that a taxpayer is entitled to an incentive payment. And that they have to click a link to complete the information needed to claim it.
- Phishing emails claiming that the IRS calculated a taxpayer’s “tax activity” which shows they are entitled to a certain amount of economic effect payment.
The IRS says that is one of the best ways to protect yourself from it shameful activity like this understand how the agency communicates with taxpayers. On the one hand, it does not send unsolicited SMS or e-mails. So if you get one of these, that’s a huge red flag.
The IRS also does not threaten people with jail or trial. It also doesn’t require tax payments on gift cards or via cryptocurrency.
Other things to look out for
Other warnings that may indicate fraud: See if you can spot any bugs. Such as grammatical, capitalization and spelling errors in emails and texts, which according to the IRS “serve as indicators of fraud”. Also, don’t click on shortened URLs that can lead to rogue websites.
The IRS says that “Taxpayers who receive unsolicited email or attempts on social media to gather information that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely related to the IRS should forward the message to email@example.com . Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential fraudsters online or over the phone. “
Meanwhile, taxpayers who think they are the victim of a stimulus check scam? You can report fraud or theft to the tax administration finance inspector. Reports can be made online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV. “If you suspect that you may have been a victim of identity theft as a result of fraud, visit them Taxpayers’ Guide to Identity Theft Website to find out what steps to take. “
For more information on COVID-19 fraud and other financial programs, please visit IRS.gov. And for official IRS information on COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments, visit the Coronavirus tax relief page.