Finance

IRS warns scammers still using pandemic to steal Americans’ money, identities

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig is seen during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Thursday, April 7, 2022 to discuss the President's FY 2023 departmental budget request and the 2022 tax filing season.
Greg Nash
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig is seen during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Thursday, April 7, 2022 to discuss the President’s FY 2023 departmental budget request and the 2022 tax filing season.

The IRS warned Tuesday that potential scammers are still using various types of pandemic-related scams to steal money and identity from U.S. citizens.

The IRS in March said its investigators had uncovered more than $1.8 billion in fraudulent activity related to federal COVID-19 stimulus funds. And a tsunami of fraudulent unemployment claims have cost states and the federal government tens of billions of dollars.

In a statement on Monday, IRS noted that scammers are sometimes using fake job offers and stimulus checks to gain access to victims’ information to file false unemployment claims or tax returns.

“Scammers continue using the pandemic as a device to scare or confuse potential victims into handing over their hard-earned money or personal information,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement. “I urge everyone to be leery of suspicious calls, texts and emails promising benefits that don’t exist.”

“Any text messages, random incoming phone calls or emails inquiring about bank account information, requesting recipients to click a link or verify data should be considered suspicious and deleted without opening,” the agency said. “This includes not just stimulus payments, but tax refunds and other common issues.” 

The agency also said criminals are using the promise of pandemic Economic Impact Payments (EIP) to target individuals. It noted that criminals also use fake charity schemes to steal information from would-be donors.

“Caution and awareness are our best lines of defense against these criminals,” Rettig added Tuesday. “Everyone should verify information on a trusted government website, such as IRS.gov.”

Individuals that missed out on their COVID-19 stimulus payments or got less than the full amount are eligible to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit for their 2020 or 2021 federal tax returns, the agency noted.

Tags Chuck Rettig COVID-19 fraud COVID-19 fraudelent COVID-19 pandemic fraud Fraud Internal Revenue Service IRS IRS IRS
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