According to the IRS, a record number of phishing scams linked to economic impact payments have been reported in the months of June and July. The IRS says they have not seen this many complaints in more than a decade.
“It’s critically important for members of the public to be aware of these scams and avoid becoming a victim. If anyone believes they are a victim, I encourage them to report it," U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Andrew Birge said.
The IRS says recent scam reports include text messages stating that a taxpayer is eligible for a “stimulus payment.” The victim must then click on a link to complete the necessary information to claim it. And 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.
These 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.
“IRS-CI Special Agents diligently work to eradicate financial fraud and stop fraudulent schemes.” Acting Special Agent in Charge, Detroit IRS Criminal Investigation Brian Thomas said.
"Deliberately defrauding American taxpayers is a criminal offense and CI will investigate these individuals and recommend prosecution.”
The IRS says the best way to avoid falling victim to a scam is knowing how the IRS communicates with taxpayers.
The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails nor do they threaten individuals with jail time or lawsuits. They also don't demand tax payments on gift cards or via cryptocurrency.
Taxpayers can report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.