The IRS is warning Louisiana taxpayers about a new wave of COVID-19-related scams as the agency delivers the second round of Economic Impact Payments.
In the last several months, IRS Criminal Investigation Division says they have seen a variety of Economic Impact Payment (EIP) scams and other financial schemes designed to steal money and personal information from taxpayers.
“During this COVID-19 Pandemic people have been impacted in many ways to include loss of life, loss of their jobs or in some cases a combination of both. For instance, some families’ primary provider may have lost their life to COVID-19 which severely impacts that family’s source of income. Thus, many families are looking for immediate forms of financial relief which can make them vulnerable to scams. Ruthless criminals are actively seeking to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals, preying upon them by stealing their Economic Impact Payments or personal information.”
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 key words 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 disease.
- Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result. Although criminals are constantly changing their tactics, taxpayers can help protect themselves by acting as the first line of defense.
The best way to avoid falling victim to a scam, the IRS says, is knowing how the IRS communicates with taxpayers.
The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails. The IRS does not call people with threats of jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards.
COVID-19 scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submitted through the NCDF Web Complaint Form.
Taxpayers can also report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Reports can be made online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.
Taxpayers who receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, should forward the message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone. To learn more about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes visit IRS.gov.
Official IRS information about COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page, which is updated frequently.
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