WASHINGTON (WAVY) — As the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) begins to deliver the second round of Economic Impact Payments (EIP), they are also warning Virginians of a new COVID-19-related scam.
“IRS-CI wants to make sure all Virginians are aware of potential scams, in hopes of preventing them from being victimized,” said Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson. “Please stay vigilant of potential scammers looking to steal your identity and your money.”
In the last several months, the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) has seen a variety of EIP scams and other financial schemes designed to steal money and personal information from taxpayers.
Criminals are now taking advantage of both the second round of stimulus along with the approaching tax filing season.
Some common COVID-19 scams include:
- Text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.
- Phishing schemes using email, letters, and social media messages with keywords such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in varying ways. These communications are blasted to large numbers of people and aim to access personally-identifying information and financial account information (including account numbers and passwords).
- The organized and unofficial sale of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits (as well as offers to sell fake cures, vaccines, pills, and professional medical advice regarding unproven COVID-19 treatments).
- Fake donation requests for individuals, groups and areas heavily affected by the
- Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result.
Additionally, the IRS says they do not:
- Send unsolicited texts or emails.
- Call people with threats of jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards.
IRS-CI continues investigating hundreds of COVID-19-related cases with law enforcement agencies domestically and abroad and educating taxpayers about scams.
What should you do?
Taxpayers can also report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.
Taxpayers who receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather the information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, should forward the message to email@example.com.