Unfortunately, with good news of the stimulus package, also comes the bad news of an increase in calls and e-mail phishing scams, leading to tax-related fraud and identity theft. IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig shared:

We urge people to take extra care during this period. 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 [the] attachments or links. Go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information.”

The IRS will never contact taxpayers requesting money or personal information, in a text message or through social media. Official IRS information about the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic impact payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page on IRS.gov website.

How will I get my money?

In most cases, the IRS will deposit payments into the direct deposit account previously provided on taxpayer’s most recent filed tax return. If a direct deposit account is not listed, a new secure portal will be launched mid-April on the IRS.gov website, allowing taxpayers to provide direct deposit information. If the IRS does not have a taxpayer’s direct deposit information, a check will be mailed to the address on file, which may take an additional few weeks.  With respect to retirees who typically do not have a requirement to file a tax return, those individuals will not need to any additional action to receive the economic impact payment.

The Scam

The IRS shares that scammers may try a number of different tactics, including:

  • Emphasizing the words “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” The official term is economic impact payment.
  • Ask the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
  • Ask by phone, e-mail, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information, and state that the information is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact payment.
  • Suggest that they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer’s behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in-person.
  • Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then ask the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online, in order to cash it.

If you have received any unsolicited e-mails, text messages or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), the IRS urges you to forward them to phishing@irs.gov.