Record Number of Stimulus Payment Scams
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reported receiving a record number of reports about Economic Impact Payment scams in June and July 2021.
“Even though taxpayers have received multiple rounds of Economic Impact Payments, we saw phishing scams surge this summer,” said Jim Lee, chief of IRS Criminal Investigation, in a statement. “The number of reported scam attempts reached levels we haven’t seen in more than a decade. More than ever, it is important for taxpayers to continue to protect their personal information and not fall victim to these scams.”
Phishing scams attempt to mirror legitimate IRS communications with the goal of convincing unsuspecting taxpayers to enter personal information or submit a payment.
According to the IRS, recent reports of scams have included:
- 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.
How Consumers Can Protect Themselves
The best way to avoid falling victim to a scam is knowing how the IRS communicates with taxpayers. The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails, does not threaten individuals with jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards or via cryptocurrency.
Be on the look out for grammatical, capitalization and spelling errors in emails and texts, which all serve as fraud indicators. Taxpayers should also exercise caution when clicking shortened URLs, which can lead to fraudulent web pages.
If you receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, you should forward the message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone.
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