Democratic senators urge IRS to strengthen fraud protections

Democratic senators urge IRS to strengthen fraud protections
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Three Democratic senators on Friday urged the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to strengthen its fraud protections amid reports of scammers targeting coronavirus relief checks.

"These scams often involve criminals impersonating the IRS or suggesting that they can help get individuals their stimulus payments faster," Finance Committee members Sens. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Hillicon Valley: Feds warn hackers targeting critical infrastructure | Twitter exploring subscription service | Bill would give DHS cyber agency subpoena power Senate-passed defense spending bill includes clause giving DHS cyber agency subpoena power MORE (D-N.H.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump's pitch to Maine lobstermen falls flat | White House pushed to release documents on projects expedited due to coronavirus | Trump faces another challenge to rewrite of bedrock environmental law NEPA White House pushed to release documents on projects expedited due to coronavirus Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-Del.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Hillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns Tensions flare as GOP's Biden probe ramps up  MORE (D-Ore.) wrote to agency Commissioner Charles Rettig.

"Criminals ask for personal information in order to steal personal identities and stimulus payments," the senators explained.

ADVERTISEMENT

Under the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE signed late last month, known as the CARES Act, most households will receive direct payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. 

Scammers have taken advantage of the payments, redirecting the needed stimulus to themselves, according to multiple reports.

In Friday's letter, the Democratic lawmakers urged the IRS to boost fraud protections for online tools related to the checks.

They also called on the agency to work with the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission to educate Americans on how to spot and avoid scams.

The IRS's watchdog warned earlier this month that people should be vigilant about scams relating to the checks because criminals have long devised schemes targeting government aid programs. 

The agency itself has also issued warnings about coronavirus-related scams, saying that retirees in particular may be targeted.