The impacts of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic have caused economic hardship and uncertainty for millions of Americans. Unfortunately, scammers constantly seek new ways to target those in need. The IRS has therefore warned all Americans to stay alert for a rash of fraudulent calls, emails and text messages associated with the coronavirus.
Many of these scams relate to the Economic Impact Payments (EIPs, or stimulus checks) many Americans are receiving from the IRS during the crisis. The scammers often claim to be able to help people receive their stimulus payments more quickly.
The IRS urges all potential EIP recipients to be especially vigilant for unsolicited calls or messages that supposedly come from the IRS, as well as fraudulent websites and social media posts that ask for money or request your personal information. No one from the IRS will reach out to taxpayers in these ways. Instead, you can always find accurate information at irs.gov.
As a reminder, EIPs are being sent automatically to eligible Americans, including many people like retirees and recipients of VA benefits who are not required to file federal tax returns. In the vast majority of cases, you do not need to take any action to receive your payment. If the IRS has your banking information, the payment will be deposited directly to your account. Otherwise, a check will be mailed to you.
According to IRS investigators, scammers might:
- Ask you to sign over your “stimulus” check to them in exchange for some service. The safest way to handle an EIP check is to deposit it directly to your own bank account.
- Ask you to verify your personal or banking information by phone, email, text message, social media message/post, or through an impostor website. Scammers may claim that giving them this information will speed up the process of receiving your EIP, which is not true.
- Claim that they can get your EIP more quickly for you by representing you, in exchange for a fee or access to your private data. You do NOT need a representative to receive your EIP.
- Mail you a fake check, and then ask you to provide your personal information in order to cash it. Depositing an authentic EIP check will not require such action on your part.
If you have not yet received your EIP and wish to provide direct deposit information to the IRS, you should ONLY do so by using either the official IRS Get My Payment portal (if you filed a 2018 or 2019 federal tax return) or the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool. Note that both of these websites have addresses beginning with irs.gov, and your browser should confirm that the site you are visiting is secure (usually by displaying a padlock icon next to the web address).
Under no circumstances should you provide your direct deposit or any other private information to any other website, or to anyone who contacts you in any manner and claims to represent the IRS. If the IRS needs to contact you about your EIP or any other matter, you will receive a letter on official IRS/U.S. Treasury letterhead.