IRS warns U.S. taxpayers to remain vigilant over ongoing COVID-19 fraud
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Monday warned U.S. taxpayers that scammers are still using COVID-19 pandemic stimulus funds to steal people’s money and identities, and called on taxpayers to remain vigilant against to such criminal activities.
In a bulletin, the IRS said criminals are using stimulus payments or economic impact payments (EIPs), along with unemployment information and fake job offers to gain access to people’s personal information, then use them to file tax returns, among other things. .
“Con artists continue to use the pandemic as a way to scare or confuse potential victims into handing over their hard-earned money or personal information,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement. . “I urge everyone to be wary of suspicious calls, texts and emails promising benefits that don’t exist.”
The IRS has said U.S. taxpayers should treat any type of communication, including text messages or phone calls requesting bank account information or asking the individual to click on a link or verify data, as suspicious. and delete it without opening it.
This applies not only to stimulus payments, but to tax refunds and other common issues, the government department said while reminding taxpayers that the IRS does not contact anyone by phone, email, text. or social media to request social security numbers or other personal or financial information related to stimulus payments.
“Caution and awareness are our best lines of defense against these criminals,” Rettig added. “Everyone should verify information on a trusted government website, such as IRS.gov.”
The warning comes after a surveillance report in March found that the IRS had granted more than a million payments to potentially ineligible people, including those who are not US residents, for a total of more of $1.8 billion. He also paid about $64 million in stimulus checks to deceased people, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (pdf).
In the same month, the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) said it uncovered $1.8 billion in fraudulent activity related to COVID stimulus funds.
Elsewhere on Monday, the IRS urged Americans to be vigilant of unemployment scams in which criminals use stolen information to apply for unemployment benefits on the victim’s behalf after stealing their information.
“Taxpayers should also be on the lookout for a Form 1099-G reporting unemployment compensation they did not receive. For individuals in this situation, the IRS urges them to contact their appropriate state agency to obtain a corrected form,” the IRS said.
The IRS has issued all of the stimulus payments and most eligible Americans have already received the checks, according to the IRS. Americans who missed a stimulus payment or got less than the full amount may be eligible to claim a recovery rebate credit on their 2020 or 2021 federal income tax return.
Officials also warned that fake charities are also a problem, and scams using them tend to pose more of a threat during times of national crisis, such as the pandemic. They warned donors to do their research and ensure the charity is registered and official before giving them any money.