COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sent a warning out to South Carolina residents about a new set of COVID related scams, ahead of tax season.
Several different “Economic Impact Payment” scams have developed across the country. The scams aim to steal money, personal information from residents, and have become very common, according to the IRS.
“As this second round of Economic Impact Payments are being issued and as we approach tax filing season, I’d like to remind taxpayers to remain vigilant. Fraudsters continue to exploit this pandemic to victimize the American public by seeking ways to gain access to taxpayer’s personal and financial information in an effort to line their own pockets,” said Special Agent in Charge Matthew D. Line.
Common COVID-related scams include:
- Text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.
- Phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with key words such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in varying ways. These communications are blasted to large numbers of people and aim to access personally identifying information and financial account information (including account numbers and passwords).
- The organized and unofficial sale of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits (as well as offers to sell fake cures, vaccines, pills, and professional medical advice regarding unproven COVID-19 treatments).
- Fake donation requests for individuals, groups and areas heavily affected by the
- Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result.
Taxpayers can protect themselves from scams by acting as the first line of defense, and knowing how the agency communicates. The IRS does not send unsolicited texts, emails — or call people with threats of jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards.
Hundreds of COVID-19-related cases are currently being investigated with law enforcement agencies domestically and abroad.
Taxpayers can also report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), here.
Lastly, if you receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, you are urged to forward the message to firstname.lastname@example.org. IRS encourages against taxpayers engaging potential scammers online or on the phone.
For more information about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes, you can visit IRS.gov. Official IRS information about COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page.
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