The Internal Revenue Service will begin making COVID-19 economic impact payments in a matter of weeks. For most Americans, this will be a direct deposit into your bank account. For the unbanked, elderly or other groups who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check, they will receive their check in this same manner.
United States Attorney Joseph D. Brown and IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Tamera Cantu want to warn local Texans that criminals are well aware of these payments and will be actively attempting to steal these funds when they are most needed. Unsolicited phone calls, emails, text messages or other communications pretending to be from the IRS are likely a scam.
“We want the public to be very careful as these checks and payments go out,” said United States Attorney Joe Brown. “We want these funds to be used for the right purposes. People need to use healthy skepticism about any contact they receive that deals with the payments they will soon be receiving.”
IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Tamera Cantu of the Dallas Field Office offers the following information and tips to spot a scam and how citizens can report fraudulent activities:
- The IRS will not call and ask you to verify your payment details. Do not give your bank account, debit account, or PayPal account information to anyone – even if someone claims it’s necessary to get your check. It’s a scam.
- If you receive a call, do not engage with scammers, even if you want to tell them that you know it’s a scam. Just hang up.
- If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal identifying information or clicking on links, delete these texts and emails. Do not click on any links in those texts or emails.
- If you receive a “check” for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires you to verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a scam.
- Remember, scammers change tactics. Callers can be aggressive and threatening. Do not be bullied into disclosing information or in making any payment.
- You can get the most up-to-date information directly from the IRS at irs.gov/coronavirus.
- Residents of Eastern Texas can contact the local IRS-CI field office with violations and suspected fraud at DallasFieldOffice@ci.irs.gov.
Special Agent in Charge Cantu warns the public, “As the agency responsible for issuing economic impact payments, the IRS unfortunately expects some bad actors to execute fraud schemes in an attempt to take advantage of the situation. IRS-CI will work diligently with the United States Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Texas, and all of our law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle any fraud schemes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the time for every American to be vigilant in this fight against criminals and safeguard your personal and other privileged information.”
To report suspected fraud, please contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud by calling 866-720-5721 or sending an email to email@example.com.