Under the CARES Act signed into law in March 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has already started issuing economic impact payments or stimulus payments to help with the economic issues caused by Covid-19. Eligible adult U.S. residents, both tax filers and non-filers that meet the income limit qualifications will receive money from the government. Scammers have already started reaching out to individuals through calls, text messages, emails, and private messages trying to steal money and/or personal information. Check out some important information and resources to keep you safe.
Spotting a Scam
Even in the midst of this pandemic, scammers are busy trying to rip people. The economic stimulus payments are just a new way for con artists to scam people out of their money or private information. Most commonly scammers make contact impersonating an IRS employee or official and requiring that you pay a fee or release your identification or financial information to receive your stimulus payment.
Victims report being told to make payments by iTunes card, gift card, prepaid debit card, money order, or wire transfer, even bitcoin in order to receive economic impact payments. Others are asked for information such as their Social Security number, bank account, or government benefits debit card account number.
Tips to Avoid the Scam
It is important to get reliable information from reputable sources. For information on economic stimulus payments visit the IRS website irs.gov/coronavirus. Here you will find a wealth of information, resources, and tools regarding stimulus payments. Only use the IRS website to submit information to the IRS.
The IRS will not call you, text you, or e-mail you to prompt you for more information as a prerequisite to get an economic impact payment. You do not have to pay any fee or apply for the economic impact payment. 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. Payments will be delivered by the IRS through direct deposit or via U.S. Treasury check delivered by the U.S. Mail.
Anyone contacting you offering to help you receive your economic impact payment is a scammer. Do not share any personal or financial information with them. Any offer of assistance relating to Coronavirus relief or grants in exchange for personal financial information, or an advance fee, or charge of any kind, including the purchase of gift cards should be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at tips.TIGTA.gov.
If you encounter a scam, we want to hear about it. Simply file a complaint with Business Consumer Alliance so we can develop a report and warn others.
About Business Consumer Alliance
Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.