Published January 20, 2021
The Internal Revenue Service is warning Tennessee residents about a new batch of scams related to COVID-19.
IRS officials state that there has been a significant uptick in scams related to stimulus checks as well as ones targeting the paycheck protection program.
Karen Wingerd, Assistant Special Agent in Charge with IRS-Criminal Investigation said, “We’re seeing that it is coming up more now, too, especially with the start of filing season coming up where they’re looking for or trying to obtain the public’s personal information like social security numbers, date of birth, financial information.”
The agency says there are a host of different Economic Impact Payment scams and schemes designed to steal money and personal information from residents.
“There are people overseas as well that are looking for opportunities such as this. It’s money being passed out to help the American public and scammers are out there trying to take whatever they can,” Wingerd said.
IRS Special Agent Sarah Kull states that, “While scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their efforts, taxpayers can still act as the first line of defense.”
According to the IRS, these are some of the more common COVID-19 scams:
• Text messages being sent to taxpayers requesting bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 stimulus payment.
• Phishing schemes using emails, letters, and social media messages using keywords like “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in different ways. These communications are sent to a large number of people with the aim of accessing their personal information as well as their financial account information, including bank account numbers and passwords.
• Organized and unofficial sale of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits (including offers to sell bogus cures, vaccines, pills, and professional medical advice regarding unproven COVID-19 treatments). Only the Lucira COVID-19 all-in-one test kit is FDA approved for at home use at this time.
• Fake donation requests for people, groups, and areas heavily affected by COVID-19.
• Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing vaccines for COVID-19. These opportunities also promise the company will drastically increase in value as a result.
The IRS states that the best way to avoid falling victim to a scam is knowing they do not send unsolicited texts or emails, and they will not call people with threats of jail or lawsuits.
The IRS also does not demand tax payments using gift cards.
COVID-19 Scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721. You may also fill out the NCDF Complaint Form by visiting this link.
If you receive an email or message via social media attempting to get personal information that appears to be from the IRS, please forward those messages to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The IRS has stated that taxpayers can also report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.
To learn more about these and other scams, please visit the IRS website.