IRS sees surge in reports of stimulus check scams

IRS sees surge in reports of stimulus check scams
© Greg Nash

The IRS's criminal investigation division said this week that the agency received a record number of reports about stimulus check scams in June and July.

"Even though taxpayers have received multiple rounds of Economic Impact Payments, we saw phishing scams surge this summer," Jim Lee, chief of the criminal investigation division, said in a news release.

"The number of reported scam attempts reached levels we haven't seen in more than a decade," Lee continued. "More than ever, it is important for taxpayers to continue to protect their personal information and not fall victim to these scams."  

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Congress has authorized three rounds of stimulus checks since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with the most recent established by the relief law President BidenJoe BidenBiden: Democrats' spending plan is 'a bigger darn deal' than Obamacare Biden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Biden: Comment that DOJ should prosecute those who defy subpoenas 'not appropriate' MORE signed in March. 

Scammers have sought to take advantage of the aid payments since they began, seeking to try to trick taxpayers into providing their financial information.

The IRS said that recent scams include text messages directing people to click on links to provide their information to get stimulus payments, and phishing emails that claim that recipients are eligible for stimulus payments of specific amounts.

The IRS noted that it does not send taxpayers unsolicited emails and text messages, threaten people with jail time or lawsuits or demand payments through gift cards or cryptocurrency. 

People who receive unsolicited emails that appear to be from the IRS can forward them to phishing@irs.gov. Taxpayers can report instances of theft of their stimulus payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the IRS said.