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The IRS Warns About Scammers During COVID-19

As the IRS prepares to send money to taxpayers as part of a trillion-dollar stimulus package to combat the economic effects of the coronavirus, scammers have devised a scheme to siphon off the relief payments.

The IRS is warning taxpayers to be on the lookout for emails from COVID-19 stimulus fraudsters. They know millions of Americans will soon be receiving stimulus payments from the government. The criminals may try to get you to sign over your check to them or ask you to “verify” your filing information in order to receive your money, and then use your personal information at a later date to file false tax returns. Do not give personal information to anyone claiming to be from the IRS in email. You will not receive your stimulus payment in this manner.

If you have any questions about how to avoid any other tax scams, please contact contact your local Withum Tax Controversy Advisor.

The IRS offers the following information and tips to spot a scam and understand how the COVID-19 related economic impact payments will be issued.

  • The IRS will deposit your check into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return (or, in the alternative, send you a paper check).
  • The IRS will not call and ask you to verify your payment details. Do not give out your bank account or any other account information- even if someone claims it’s necessary to get your check. It’s a scam.
  • If you receive a call, don’t engage with scammers or thieves, even if you want to tell them that you know it’s a scam, or you think that you can beat them. Just hang up.
  • If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal information or clicking on links, delete them. Don’t click on any links in those emails or texts.
  • Reports are also swirling about bogus checks. If you receive a “check” for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires that you verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a fraud.

The IRS is urging taxpayers who have not previously provided direct deposit information, are non-filers for whatever reason, or who wish to update the information, to provide that data.  However, the mechanism to do that is not yet available.  The IRS is expected to have a tool on their web site www.irs.gov on or about April 15, 2020 where taxpayers can provide the information.  Taxpayers should also check the IRS’s web site for specific information.

The Service is also aware that there will be numerous instances of changed circumstances, births, deaths, marriages and divorces.  Currently, there is no means to update the IRS database outside of filing a 2019 tax return or waiting until next year when you file your 2020 return. Read additional information on the Economic Impact Payment and stimulus checks here.

COVID-19 Resource Center

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