Do not respond to phone calls or emails asking for information or payments to process your stimulus check!
The ink hasn’t dried on the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress this week, but the tax industry is reporting that scammers are already trying to take advantage of taxpayers. Their goal is to capitalize on millions of taxpayers anticipating stimulus money by deploying phone- and email-based phishing scams.
Apparently, scammers posing as IRS representatives are calling and emailing taxpayers to request personally identifiable information or fees that they say are required to qualify for the upcoming stimulus payments. In some cases, the ploy suggests the money is available now, which is not the case. As with other phishing scams, fraudsters intend to use that information to make a quick buck.
The tax industry wants to remind everyone that government representatives will not contact taxpayers seeking information or payments as part of the stimulus payment program. In fact, the only communication planned at this time, according to the CARES Act, is a confirmation letter that will be mailed to taxpayers after the stimulus payments have been distributed.
The CARES Act specifies that the IRS will send letters to taxpayers within 15 days of payments being issued. The letters outline three things:
- How the IRS issued payment
- How much the IRS paid
- How to contact the IRS if payment wasn’t received
Until we learn the details of the IRS's process for sending stimulus payments, taxpayers should be on high alert for stimulus-related scams.
Those who are targeted by the stimulus scam should report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission as soon as possible. One of the keys to combatting phishing scams is simply knowing that they exist in the first place.