The Internal Revenue Service received a record number of complaints about Economic Impact Payment scams in June and July 2021 not seen in more than a decade.
“Criminals are relentless in trying to victimize the public and during this pandemic are after your economic impact payments which are intended to help those in need,” said Andy Tsui, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge for the State of Idaho. “The IRS will not ask for your personal or financial information through text messages, emails, phone calls, or through social media.”
“Our office is on high alert for swindlers who try to steal these much-needed economic impact payments from the pockets of our law-abiding citizens,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Rafael Gonzalez. “We will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who tries to prey upon Idahoans during this prolonged pandemic. I ask you to be on the lookout for these hustlers. Educate yourself about common scams, be vigilant in protecting your information, and report any attempted fraud. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.”
Phishing scams attempt to mirror legitimate IRS communications with the goal of convincing unsuspecting taxpayers to enter personal information or submit a payment. This information is then exploited by scammers. Recent scam reports include
• Text messages stating that a taxpayer is eligible for a “stimulus payment” and they must click on a link to complete the necessary information to claim it.
• Phishing emails claiming the IRS has calculated a taxpayer’s “fiscal activity” and they are eligible for an Economic Impact payment in a specific amount.
Although criminals are constantly changing their tactics, taxpayers can help protect themselves by acting as the first line of defense. The best way to avoid falling victim to a scam is to know how the IRS communicates with taxpayers. The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails. The IRS does not threaten individuals with jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards or via cryptocurrency.
Taxpayers should be on the lookout for grammatical, capitalization, and spelling errors in emails and texts, which serve as fraud indicators. Taxpayers should also exercise caution when clicking shortened URLs, which can lead to fraudulent web pages.
Taxpayers who receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather the information that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS should forward the message to [email protected] Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone.
Taxpayers can 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. POINT OF CONTACT:
Special Agent Karen Gurgel if you suspect you are a victim of identity theft as a result of a scam, visit the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft to know what steps to take. To learn more about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes, visit IRS.gov. Official IRS information about COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page, which is updated frequently.