The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning the public not to fall victim to a COVID-19 scam.
The IRS said scammers are trying to get personal information and COVID-19 Economic Impact payments.
As the IRS begins to distribute COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments, for most it will be a direct deposit into their bank accounts, but the elderly or other groups will receive their payment via paper check.
The IRS is warning that criminals and scammers may take advantage of those individuals in the following way:
- Scammers may try to get them to sign over their check to them.
- Scammers may use this opportunity to get them to “verify” their filing information in order to receive their money. They may use their personal information to file false tax returns in an identity theft scheme.
“During these difficult times, the last thing the people of San Diego need is to become victims of pandemic-related fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “Trying to steal funds meant to help cashstrapped residents make it through the pandemic isn’t just disgusting — it’s illegal. Those who engage in this conduct will find themselves in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors.”
The IRS reminds the public that they will not call and ask to verify payment details. In addition, they said not to give out personal information like a bank account, debit account or PayPal account information.
If individuals do receive a call, do not engage with scammers or thieves, 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.
If you receive a “check” in the mail now, it’s a fraud – it will take the Treasury Department a few weeks to distribute the payments. Or if you receive a “check” for an odd amount or a check that requires you to verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a fraud.
The IRS said scams will continue year-round but tend to peak when scammers find prime opportunities. To get more information, visit the IRS website.