U.S. Attorney, IRS warn of potential fraud scams surrounding COVID-19 economic impact payments
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The United States Attorney’s Office and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) warned Ohio taxpayers today to be alert about possible scams relating to COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments.
U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers and Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-CI Cincinnati Field Office, made the announcement today in an effort to prevent taxpayers in need from being victimized by criminals using the recently approved federal payments as an opportunity to commit a crime.
“As your stimulus checks come in, so will the scams,” U.S. Attorney DeVillers said. “Beware of anyone seeking personal information in exchange for promises about your check.”
“Ruthless criminals will take this opportunity to prey upon our fears in order to try and line their own pockets by stealing your money or your personal information,” said Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.”
COVID-19 economic impact payments will be issued in the coming weeks. For most Americans, the checks will be a direct deposit into a bank account. For the unbanked, elderly or other groups who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check, they will receive their economic impact payment by paper check as well.
Scammers may try to get taxpayers to sign over their checks or “verify” filing information.
U.S. Attorney DeVillers and Special Agent in Charge Jackson offer 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, 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. Do not click on the links.
- Bogus checks may also exist. If you receive a “check” in the mail now, it is not legitimate. Treasury checks have not yet been mailed. If you receive a “check” for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a “check” requiring you to verify the “check” online or by calling a phone number, it is a fraud.
- The IRS will not ask you to send money before it will issue your economic impact payment. If someone asks you to send money to get your payment, do not send money.
For more information, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
To report fraud related to the coronavirus, email email@example.com or call 1-866-720-5721.
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Updated April 2, 2020