Scammers are using the stimulus checks distributed to many Americans through the COVID-19 pandemic as a ruse to gain sensitive information, an IRS investigation finds.
The agency says they received a record number of complaints about the scams in June and July.
Scammers often communicate via text message or email. They imitate legitimate IRS messages with the goal of getting taxpayers to enter personal information or make a payment.
Reported scams include text messages saying that a taxpayer is eligible for a stimulus payment and they must click on a link to complete the information to claim it. Emails have included claims that the IRS has calculated a taxpayer's "fiscal activity" and they are eligible for a payment of a specific amount.
The IRS has shared the following tips to help taxpayers avoid this type of scam:
- Do not respond to unsolicited text or emails claiming to be the IRS. The IRS does not send unsolicited text or emails, threaten individuals with jail or lawsuits or demand tax payments via gift cards or cryptocurrency.
- Look out for grammatical, capitalization and spelling errors in the message.
- Be cautious when clicking shortened URLs, which can lead to fraudulent web pages.
The IRS says that taxpayers who receive unsolicited emails or attempts to gather information from a group claiming to be the IRS should forward the message to firstname.lastname@example.org. They can report fraud or theft online to the Treasure Inspector General for Tax Administration.