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IRS warns of COVID-19 scams related to stimulus payments

(WCJB)
Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 1:20 PM EST
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WASHINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - The IRS is warning taxpayers about a new wave of COVID-19-related scams as the second round of Economic Impact Payments are being distributed.

The IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division said it has seen a variety of COVID-19 scams in recent months.

“IRS-CI wants to make sure all Virginians are aware of potential scams, in hopes of preventing them from being victimized,” said Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson.  “Please stay vigilant of potential scammers looking to steal your identity and your money.”

According to the division, some common scams include:

Text messages asking for bank information in order to receive the $1,200 payments.

Phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with key words such as “coronavirus,” “COVID-19” and “stimulus” in various ways. They are sent to large numbers of people in an attempt to gain personally identifying information and financial account information.

The sale of fake at-home COVID-19 tests, along with 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 virus.

Fake opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result.

The IRS said the best way to keep from falling victim to scammers is to know how the IRS communicates with taxpayers. They do not send unsolicited texts or emails, nor do they call people with threats of jail or lawsuits. The IRS never demands tax payments on gift cards.

COVID-19 scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submitted through the NCDF web complaint form.

Taxpayers can also report fraud or theft of Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Anyone who receives 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 phishing@irs.gov.

To learn more about COVID-19 scams, visit IRS.gov.

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