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Press Release

U.S. Attorney and IRS Special Agent In Charge Urge Public To Watch Out For Scams and Fraud Involving COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN FRANCISCO – U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson and Kareem Carter, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation today warned the public that scammers may try to target the anticipated COVID-19 economic impact payments and urged everyone to be on the lookout for possible scams. 

U.S. Attorney Anderson and Special Agent in Charge Carter made the announcement today in an effort to arm taxpayers with the information necessary to avoid being victimized by criminals who may view the forthcoming payments as an opportunity for fraud.

COVID-19 economic impact payments will be issued over the coming days and weeks. For most Americans, the payment will come in the form of a direct deposit into their bank account. However, for those taxpayers that traditionally receive tax refunds via paper check, including many elderly citizens and those who do not use banking services, the payments will be issued as a paper check. All taxpayers—whether they expect to receive a direct deposit or a paper check—may be the target of fraud.   

“We must all remain alert,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson.  “Scammers will always try to think of creative ways to take your money from you. With the help of an alert public, we can bring them to justice before they can profit from their illegal schemes.”

“As this deadly virus continues to impact every part of our lives, scammers are looking to take advantage of all the chaos,” said Special Agent in Charge Carter. “They will prey on our hopes and fears to steal your money, your personal information, or both.”

U.S. Attorney Anderson and Special Agent in Charge Carter offered the following information about how the COVID-19 related economic impact payments will be issued and tips on how to spot and avoid scams:

  • 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, debit account, or PayPal 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.
  • Reports are also swirling about bogus checks. If you receive a “check” in the mail now, it’s a fraud - it will take the Treasury a few weeks to mail those out. 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.

Additional information about the pandemic and the Department’s role in combatting related illegal activities can be found here:

If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can report it without leaving your home through a number of platforms.  Go to:

The National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at, or

Report the incident to IRS Criminal Investigation at

Updated April 14, 2020

Consumer Protection
Disaster Fraud