IRS sees surge in scams tied to Economic Impact payments - East Idaho News

IRS sees surge in scams tied to Economic Impact payments

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The following is a news release from the IRS Criminal Investigation Denver Field Office.

DENVER, Colorado — The Internal Revenue Service received a record number of complaints about Economic Impact Payment scams in June and July, the likes of which have not been seen in more than a decade.

“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 knowing how the IRS communicates with taxpayers.

“The IRS will not ask for your personal or financial information through text messages, emails, phone calls, or through social media.,” said Andy Tsui, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge for the State of Idaho.

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.

“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,” Tsui says.

Taxpayers who receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, should forward the message to 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. Reports can be made online.

If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, visit the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft.

To learn more about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes, click here. Official IRS information about COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page, which is updated frequently.