The world is going through unprecedented circumstances due to the outbreak of coronavirus. However, scammers and fraudsters are still trying to take advantage of people, tricking them into sharing their personal information.
Scammers target retirees in particular. The fraudsters send false communications related to Economic Impact Payments announced by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Treasury.
The fraudulent strategy being used is called phishing. This consists in using text, phone calls or social media to send false messages supposedly from trusted institutions to deceive the unknowing recipients.
How to Identify Phising Attempts
- The term Economic Impact Payment is not used in the message. Instead, they use the terms “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.”
- A fake check with an odd amount is mailed, and you are ordered to call a number or verify information online to cash it
- You’re asked to check your Economic Impact Payment to someone else.
- You’re asked by phone, email or social media to verify your information in order to receive or speed up your payment.
The Truth About Economic Impact Payments
These payments are government stimulus to help taxpayers who have been negatively affected by the outbreak of coronavirus.
Those eligible are tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals or up to $150,000 for couples filing jointly. If your income is above these amounts, the payment will be reduced by $5 for each $100 above the threshold.
Single filers with adjusted gross income of more than $99,000 or $198,000 for joint filers are not eligible for Economic Impact Payments.
The IRS will deposit your payment directly using the details included in your 2019 tax return (or 2018 if you haven’t filed yet). If they don’t have your direct deposit information, don’t worry: An official website will be online within a few weeks, so you can safely communicate this information.
What to Do?
If you believe you have suffered a phishing or fraud attempt, don’t engage the sender of the message. Report the attempt to the IRS (email@example.com)
The government’s response to the outbreak of coronavirus is fluid, and fraudsters adapt their strategies accordingly. Check constantly this blog and the IRS’ website to stay updated as the situation evolves.
It’s important to know this and other pitfalls to successfully navigate the current circumstances. Our knowledgeable experts at JT Tax Services will assist you so you can take advantage of all the relief initiatives you are eligible for.