Scammers look to economic stimulus payments in latest schemes

Since Americans began receiving their economic impact checks from the federal government on Wednesday (April 15), scammers also have been actively trying to get their hands on that money.

“Identity thieves view the pandemic as a chance to exploit tax professionals as well as taxpayers,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “They are using every trick of their criminal trade to con people as well as steal valuable personal and financial information to help enable tax-related identity theft.”

For those with direct deposit information on file with the IRS, payments have been or will be processed. Paper checks are scheduled to go out in May and cannot be sent earlier.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning Americans of imposters posing as tax preparers or as government officials and calling, texting, emailing or reaching out via social media to try to get individuals’ personal financial information.

The BBB Scam Tracker notes scam sites often request your Social Security number under the pretense of verifying your eligibility for a stimulus payment. Other sites may claim they can get your money sooner — a claim that is false.

The IRS emphasizes its representatives will not call, email or text anyone about economic impact payments. Such contacts are impersonation scams by thieves seeking to steal bank account or other sensitive data. The IRS warns that consumers should never provide bank account or credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or other personal information to someone who has reached out to you first.

For more information about scams related to the economic stimulus payments, visit:

https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus-tax-relief-and-economic-impact-payments

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts

For information related to other scams, visit:

https://www.ftc.gov/coronavirus

To keep track of the latest fraud schemes or monitor such crimes in your own community, check out the BBB Scam Tracker at https://www.bbb.org/ScamTracker.

And finally, consumers can fact-check information by visiting What the U.S. Government is Doing for legitimate links to federal, state and local government agencies. (TAB)