CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With the second round of Economic Impact Payments in the hands or on the way to many West Virginians, the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) is warning citizens of potential scams to steal money and take personal information.
Kelly Jackson, a Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-CI Washington DC Field Office spoke with MetroNews and said in the last several months, IRS-CI has seen a variety of Economic Impact Payment (EIP) scams and other financial schemes designed to steal money and personal information from taxpayers.
She said many scammers use scare tactics during the COVID-19 pandemic including:
– Text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.
– Phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with key words such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in varying ways. These communications are blasted to large numbers of people and aim to access personally identifying information and financial account information (including account numbers and passwords).
– The organized and unofficial sale of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits (as well as offers to sell fake cures, vaccines, pills, and professional medical advice regarding unproven COVID-19 treatments).
– Fake donation requests for individuals, groups and areas heavily affected by the
– Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result.
“The IRS is not going to initiate contact with a taxpayer. We are not going to send you a text message or an email asking you for your bank account information,” Jackson told MetroNews.
IRS-CI continues investigating hundreds of COVID-19-related cases with law enforcement agencies domestically and abroad and educating taxpayers about scams, a release said.
COVID-19 scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submitted through the NCDF Web Complaint Form. The NCDF is a national coordinating agency within the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division dedicated to improving the detection, prevention, investigation and prosecution of criminal conduct related to natural and man-made disasters and other emergencies.
Taxpayers can also report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Reports can be made online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.