Consumer Alert

The IRS is issuing a consumer alert about the surge in fraud connected to Economic Impact Payments.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has received a record number of complaints about Economic Impact Payment scams in June and July 2021.

This number of scam complaints has not been seen in more than a decade, according to a release from the federal agency.

“In today’s world, the protection of our personal information is tied to our well-being,” IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Bret Kressin said. “As threats against our personal information continue to rise, so must our vigilance in protecting that information. IRS:CI continues to safeguard this information from those who wish to steal it, but we need your help in being wary of potential scams and reporting them.”

IRS Impersonation Email

Phishing scams, such as this IRS impersonation email, attempt to mirror legitimate IRS communications with the goal of convincing unsuspecting taxpayers to enter personal information or submit a payment. This information is then exploited by scammers.

Sample IRS Impersonation Text Message

“Victims lose billions each year to fraud schemes," Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug said. "At a time when many in our country continue to experience the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, criminals are taking advantage of government programs aimed at helping those in need. If you learn that a friend or family member has been targeted and is contemplating sending money to someone they do not know, please intercede. If the offer sounds fraudulent or too good to be true, it probably is."

Phishing scams attempt to mirror legitimate IRS communications with the goal of convincing unsuspecting taxpayers to enter personal information or submit a payment. This information is then exploited by scammers.

Recent scam reports include:

  • Text messages stating that a taxpayer is eligible for a “stimulus payment” and they must click on a link to complete the necessary information to claim it.
  • Phishing emails claiming the IRS has calculated a taxpayer’s “fiscal activity” and they are eligible for an Economic Impact payment in a specific amount.

Although criminals are constantly changing their tactics, taxpayers can help protect themselves by acting as the first line of defense.

The best way to avoid falling victim to a scam is knowing how the IRS communicates with taxpayers, the agency said. The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails. The IRS does not threaten individuals with jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards or via cryptocurrency.

Taxpayers should be on the lookout for grammatical, capitalization and spelling errors in emails and texts, which serve as fraud indicators. Taxpayers should also exercise caution when clicking shortened URLs, which can lead to fraudulent web pages.

Taxpayers who 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, should forward the message to Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone.

Taxpayers can report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Reports can be made online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.

If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft as a result of a scam, visit the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft to know what steps to take.

To learn more about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes, visit Official IRS information about COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page, which is updated frequently.


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