The Internal Revenue Service urges taxpayers to be on the lookout for a surge of calls and email phishing attempts about COVID-19. These contacts can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft.
"We urge people to take extra care during this period. The IRS isn't going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "That also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Remember, don't open them or click on attachments or links. Go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information."
In addition to emails, taxpayers should stay alert for suspicious text messages, website, and social media attempts that request money or personal information.
“History has shown that criminals take every opportunity to perpetrate a fraud on unsuspecting victims, especially when a group of people is vulnerable or in a state of need,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Don Fort. “While you are waiting to hear about your economic impact payment, criminals are working hard to trick you into getting their hands on it. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division is working hard to find these scammers and shut them down, but in the meantime, we ask people to remain vigilant.”
The IRS reminds taxpayers that scammers may:
Emphasize the words “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” The official term is economic impact payment.
Ask the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
Ask by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information saying that the information is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact payment.
Suggest that they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer’s behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.
Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.
Reporting Coronavirus-related or other phishing attempts
Those who receive unsolicited emails, text messages or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), should forward it to email@example.com.
Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone. Learn more about reporting suspected scams by going to the IRS's Report Phishing and Online Scams page.
Official IRS information about the COVID-19 pandemic and economic impact payments (stimulus checks) can be found on the IRS's Coronavirus Tax Relief page. The page is regularly updated when new information becomes available.
IR-2020-64 (April 2, 2020)