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) HassanDemocratic incumbents bolster fundraising advantage in key Senate races Warnock raises .5 million in third quarter McConnell-aligned group targeting Kelly, Cortez Masto and Hassan with M ad campaign MORE (D-N.H.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperIs the Biden administration afraid of trade? Congress sends 30-day highway funding patch to Biden after infrastructure stalls Senate to try to pass 30-day highway bill Saturday after GOP objection MORE (D-Del.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCongress needs to step up on crypto, or Biden might crush it Democrats face growing storm over IRS reporting provision Best shot at narrowing racial homeownership gap at risk, progressives say 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.

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Under the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event 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.