Millions of Americans have received their $600 stimulus checks since the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Treasury Department began issuing them on December 29. This financial windfall couldn’t come soon enough, particularly for those hit hardest by COVID-19’s economic impact.
However, scammers are using the second round of payments as an opportunity to trick people out of their money or even steal personal information — just as they did last spring with the first stimulus checks.
According to CNET, several people have already reported instances of fraudulent text messages, emails, and phone calls to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The IRS has repeatedly cautioned people about these scams, which also include fake messages on Twitter.
The IRS will never contact taxpayers through social media. Furthermore, any pressing emails, texts, or phone calls that direct you to a link to verify your payment or request more information are bogus. Never click unfamiliar links or provide your banking or personal details.
The IRS is incapable of contacting people through the phone, let alone social media. It’s important to recognize these scams so you can protect yourself and those around you. CNET explains the most common ways bad actors are targeting vulnerable Americans and what to do if you’re the victim of a scam.
The IRS Will Never Contact You Via Text Or Social Media
If you receive a direct message from the IRS over text, social media, or email, do not reply. “Remember: #IRS does NOT send unsolicited texts. Watch out for a scam that asks for bank account info in order to send you an Economic Impact Payment,” the IRS stated in a January 5 tweet. Three days later, it posted another tweet specifically cautioning against bogus DMs.
Before President Trump signed the $900 stimulus bill providing the direct payments into law, several people reported text messages telling them to visit a link to receive their money. If you receive a text such as this, it’s not real.
Scammers Promising Faster Delivery
If you’re prompted to confirm or give more financial or personal information over the phone, an email, or text in exchange for faster payment delivery, it’s also fraudulent. The IRS will never call or email you for more information, warns Chuck Rettig, IRS Commissioner. If you need to update or provide new information, visit this website.
The IRS Uses The Official Terminology
The IRS refers to the stimulus checks as “economic impact payments,” so if you receive a message or phone call referencing them by any other name, it’s a scam. But, just because the bad actors use the correct phrase doesn’t mean the communication is authentic — especially if it’s a text, email, phone call, or DM.
If you want more information about your payment, visit the official IRS website.
What If You Receive A Fake Stimulus Check In The Mail?
Some people have reportedly received a check for a strange amount (e.g., $603.97 instead of $600) with a phone number or website recipients must contact before using it. The IRS says these checks are bogus. The Treasury Department and IRS will distribute economic impact payments via direct deposit, a physical check, or prepaid debit card.
Like the first round of payments, many Americans will not have to submit an application or respond to any message to get their money. The only situation this would occur is when you claim the Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2020 taxes.
The IRS Will Never Request Payment To Cash Your Check
Several bad actors have attempted to lead people into believing they need to pay to receive their money. The IRS will never ask recipients to cash their checks and make a payment. If the money is being sent via direct deposit, the IRS notes it will issue the stimulus checks to the bank account provided in your 2019 tax return. If you never provided your banking details on your last tax return, the IRS will send a check to your latest mailing address.
What To Do If You’re The Victim Of A Scam
If you believe you or someone you know may have fallen victim to one of these scams, the IRS advises you to visit IdentityTheft.gov. Here, you can file a report to the IRS and FTC in one place and work with them to create a recovery strategy.
To check the status of your check, visit the Get My Payment tool on the IRS website. You can also see where your stimulus check is in the mail.
- Brown, Shelby. “Just Do Us a Favor and Don’t Fall for These Stimulus Check Scams, OK?” CNET, CNET, 10 Jan. 2021, www.cnet.com/personal-finance/just-do-us-a-favor-and-dont-fall-for-these-stimulus-check-scams-ok/.