As the second round of stimulus money is distributed, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a warning that people need to be vigilant about scams targeting recipients of the funds, according to reports.
“We urge people to take extra care during this period,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in an alert to taxpayers. “The IRS isn’t going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic-impact payment or your refund faster. That also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Remember, don’t open them or click on attachments or links.”
For most filers, this second round of payments — EIP 2 — is $600 for singles and $1,200 for married couples filing a joint return. People can also get funds for dependents 17 and under.
Anyone receiving a call, email, text or social media message requesting anything from the IRS in order to receive a stimulus payment or tax refund is being told not to respond because it’s a scam, according to the alert.
“History has shown that criminals take every opportunity to perpetrate a fraud on unsuspecting victims, especially when a group of people is vulnerable or in a state of need,” said Don Fort, IRS criminal investigation division head. “While you are waiting to hear about your economic-impact payment, criminals are working hard to trick you into getting their hands on it. The IRS criminal investigation division is working hard to find these scammers and shut them down, but in the meantime, we ask people to remain vigilant.”
People who have filed a 2018 or 2019 federal tax return are eligible for a stimulus payment under the CARES Act. The IRS will either deposit funds directly into the bank account on file or send a paper check to the address on file. Social Security recipients and railroad retirees will get a $600 stimulus payment automatically via the same way monthly benefits are received.
Anyone needing to set up bank account information can use a special IRS portal that will be established sometime this month.
Signs that a caller or emailer is a scammer include messaging that uses the words “stimulus check” or “stimulus payment.” The IRS and other government officials are using the term “economic-impact payment.” Other tip-offs are requests for the recipient to sign the check over to the caller, requests for verification of personal or financial information, and any offers to get the payment faster.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the individual $600 checks started going out on Dec. 29 and that direct deposit payments might have already been deposited. The $900 billion pandemic relief bill was signed into law a day earlier. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) payments to small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) could also be subjected to fraud due to lax verifications amid the economic urgency brought on by the pandemic.