Beware of scams,fraud involving CARES Act economic impact payments

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens should beware of those trying to get their money.

U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott and Rod Ammari, Special Agent in Charge of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Office of Investigations, Western Field Division, warned the public to be aware of scammers attempting to intercept Economic Impact Payments being delivered by the Internal Revenue Service.

Scott and Ammari announced an effort to provide taxpayers with the necessary information to avoid falling victim to criminals using this pandemic as an opportunity to commit fraud. TIGTA has established a website for citizens to report IRS-related Coronavirus scams at tips.TIGTA.gov. You may also call TIGTA’s investigative offices in Fresno at (559) 458-7377 or in Sacramento at (916) 974-5774.

Most eligible taxpayers will receive their payment through direct deposit into their bank account. Taxpayers that traditionally receive tax refunds via paper check, including many elderly citizens and those who do not use banking services, will receive their payments via U.S. Treasury check delivered by mail by the U.S. Postal Service.

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Scott and Ammari offered the following tips on how to identify and report attempted scams involving the Economic Impact Payments:

  • The IRS will not call you, text you, or email you to prompt you for more information as a prerequisite to getting an Economic Impact Payment.
  • To check on the status of your Economic Impact Payment, visit IRS.gov and click on “Get My Payment.” Only use the website.IRS.gov. Do not use any other websites or services that claim to be able to process your Economic Impact Payment or act as an intermediary between you and the IRS. Similarly, do not click on any links in e-mails that purport to take you to the IRS website. The best practice is to manually type “IRS.gov” into your web browser.
  • Anyone who calls you claiming to be from the IRS and offering to process your Economic Impact Payment is impersonating the IRS. Do not share any personal or financial information with these scammers.
  • Do not share your personal information with anyone, whether claiming to be from the IRS or some other business or government agency, offering to assist you with your Economic Impact Payment. Payments will be delivered by the IRS through direct deposit or via U.S. Treasury check delivered by mail by the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Do not share your online banking username or password with anyone. The IRS does not need your online banking username and password in order to send your Economic Impact Payment.

After your Economic Impact Payment has been sent, the IRS will send you a letter confirming your payment. If you receive this letter, but you have not received your Economic Impact Payment, report the missing payment to TIGTA through our website at tips.TIGTA.gov. You will also need to report the missing payment separately to the IRS.

“During this national emergency, all Californians must remain vigilant against those who are plotting ways to scam them out of their COVID-19 economic impact payments,” said Scott. “It is critical that suspicious calls and efforts are immediately reported to law enforcement.”

“TIGTA is the agency responsible for protecting the integrity of Federal tax administration, including attempts to impersonate the IRS to defraud taxpayers,” said Ammari. “We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate and bring to justice any individual or organization that engages in criminal activity and exploits this national crisis as a means to commit fraud.”

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Additional information about the coronavirus pandemic and the Justice Department’s role in combating related illegal activities can be found at justice.gov/coronavirus.