IRS warns of scams targeting stimulus payments amid COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The IRS is sending a warning to Tennessee taxpayers about a new wave of COVID-19 scams as the department rolls out its second round of stimulus payments.

They said there’s been an uptick of these scams relating to stimulus checks as well as ones targeting the paycheck protection program.

Scams include text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving the Economic Impact Payment. There are also phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with key words such as “coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in different ways.

“We’re seeing that it is coming up more now, too, especially with the start of filing season coming up where they’re looking for or trying to obtain the public’s personal information like social security numbers, date of birth, financial information,” said Karen Wingerd, Assistant Special Agent in Charge with IRS-Criminal Investigation. “I’m not surprised by it. There are would-be scammers out there all the time. There are people overseas as well that are looking for opportunities such as this. It’s money being passed out to help the American public and scammers are out there trying to take whatever they can.”

The IRS said the best way to avoid falling victim to a scam is knowing they do not send unsolicited texts or emails, and they will not call people with threats of jail or lawsuits.

The IRS said COVID-19 scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submitted through its web complaint form. The IRS said taxpayers can also report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.

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