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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 call on GAO to review child care access barriers for disabled parents, kids Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Koch-backed group launches ads urging lawmakers to reject COVID-19 relief bill MORE (D-N.H.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperTexas snowstorm wreaks havoc on state power grid The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Dems rest their case; verdict on Trump this weekend No signs of demand for witnesses in Trump trial MORE (D-Del.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill No. 2 Senate Democrat shoots down overruling parliamentarian on minimum wage Progressives push White House to overturn wage ruling 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 TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend 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.