Watch out for IRS/tax related scams amid the Covid-19 pandemic
We've already heard reports over the last few weeks about a number of phone, internet and in-person scams as social engineers continue to look to prey on innocent victims during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The New Jersey State Income Tax Filing Deadline has been extended as of Wednesday morning to July 15 but it's still bringing on more stress and anxiety for a number of Jersey residents.
The Federal Tax Filing Deadline, for note, has been extended to July 15.
In wake of these scams, the IRS Criminal Investigative Unit is warning Jersey taxpayers about possible scams related to Covid-19 economic impact payments.
John Tafur, the Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-CI Newark Field Office, announced this warning in an effort to prevent taxpayers in need from being victimized by criminals using the recently approved payments as an opportunity to commit a crime.
“Even during a deadly nationwide pandemic, ruthless criminals will take this opportunity to prey upon our fears in order to try and line their own pockets by stealing your money or your personal information," Tafur said.
He said that COVID-19 economic impact payments will be on there way in a matter of weeks and for most Americans, this will be a direct deposit into your bank account.
For the unbanked, elderly or other groups who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check, you will receive your economic impact payment in this manner as well.
Scammers will likely try to get you to sign over your check to them or use this as an opportunity to get you to “verify” your filing information in order to receive your money, and then use your personal information at a later date to file false tax returns in an identity theft scheme.
With this information and potential scams looming, Tafur says that everyone receiving money from the government from the COVID-19 economic impact payment is at risk.
Special Agent in Charge Tafur has some tips on how to spot a scam and understand how the COVID-19 related economic impact payments will be issued.
- The IRS will deposit your check into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return (or, in the alternative, send you a paper check).
- The IRS will not call and ask you to verify your payment details. Do not give out your bank account, debit account, or PayPal account information - even if someone claims it's necessary to get your check. It's a scam.
- If you receive a call, don't engage with scammers or thieves, even if you want to tell them that you know it's a scam, or you think that you can beat them. Just hang up.
- If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal information or clicking on links, delete them. Don't click on any links in those emails or texts.
- Reports are also swirling about bogus checks. If you receive a “check” in the mail now, it’s a fraud - it will take the Treasury a few weeks to mail those out.
- If you receive a “check” for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires that you verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a fraud.
"In these uncertain and trying times, we need to stand together united with purpose. Don’t become a victim by allowing criminals to exploit your emotions. Stay strong, tell your family, friends and neighbors about these scams," Tafur said.
For more information, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
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