WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service received a record number of complaints in June and July 2021, more than we have seen in a decade, mostly relating to Economic Impact Payments.
“With the uptick in scams that we have seen, please remain vigilant in protecting your personal information,” said Darrell J. Waldon, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-CI Washington DC Field Office. “Below are some key characteristics to watch out for and how to report if you believe you have been the victim of a scam associated with economic impact payments.”
Phishing scams attempt to mirror legitimate IRS communications with the goal of convincing unsuspecting taxpayers to enter personal information or submit a payment. This information is then exploited by scammers.
Recent scam reports include:
- Text messages stating that a taxpayer is eligible for a “stimulus payment” and they must click on a link to complete the necessary information to claim it.
- Phishing emails claiming the IRS has calculated a taxpayer’s “fiscal activity” and they are eligible for an Economic Impact payment in a specific amount.
Although criminals are constantly changing their tactics, taxpayers can help protect themselves by acting as the first line of defense. The best way to avoid falling victim to a scam is to know how the IRS communicates with taxpayers. The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails. The IRS does not threaten individuals with jail or lawsuits, nor does it ever demand tax payments on gift cards or via cryptocurrency.
Taxpayers should be on the lookout for fraud indicators, such as grammatical, capitalization, and spelling errors in emails and texts. Taxpayers should also exercise caution when clicking shortened URLs, which can lead to fraudulent web pages.
Taxpayers who receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS should forward the message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone.
Taxpayers can report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Reports can be made online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.
If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft as a result of a scam, visit the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft to know what steps to take.
To learn more about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes, visit IRS.gov. Official IRS information about COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page, which is updated frequently.