IRS Warns Public of Economic Impact Payment Scams Exploiting Upcoming Stimulus Payments to Individuals
The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) warned citizens of various Economic Impact Payment Scams. These scams can take many forms including phishing emails, spam text messages spoofed websites, social media messages, scam phone calls, fake checks or notices in the mail, and possibly in person. Payment scams are constantly evolving and frequently take advantage of trending world events to try and exploit people’s fears and concerns.
In Economic Impact Payment Scams, thieves may try to trick people into signing over their economic impact payment checks so the fraudster can get the victim’s money. In other scenarios, scammers may contact victims by phone, email, text, or social media to ask for bank account numbers to supposedly deposit their expected stimulus payment but instead they steal money from the victim’s bank account.
The Economic Impact Payment is part of a $2 trillion stimulus package that sends money directly to Americans via direct deposit or paper checks. Most adults will receive a $1,200 payment and $500 each qualifying child who is under sixteen years of age. Citizens should be aware that the official name for this program is “economic impact payment” which is used in all official communications from the Department of the Treasury and all other government agencies. Common names used by the media include “stimulus check,” “stimulus payment,” and “Coronavirus stimulus payment.” Scammers may also use these other names in their schemes because they may be more familiar to recipients.
Retirees are frequently a target of all types of online and phone scams. Fraudsters are hoping not only to steal your Economic Impact Payment, but possibly your retirement savings too.
Signs of an Economic Impact Payment Scam
- Emails, phone calls, letters, texts, social media or any other communications that use words like “Stimulus Checks,” “Stimulus Payment,” “Coronavirus stimulus payment,” or other variations to describe the economic impact payment are not official government communications. The Department of the Treasury only uses the phrase “economic impact payment” in their communications
- If you receive a paper check do not agree to sign it over to anyone else
- Do not give your bank account online login or bank account numbers to anyone else to facilitie you getting a check
- Do not respond to any phone calls of text messages asking you to verify personal information or provide bank account numbers. If the Treasury does not already have your banking information from past tax returns or Social Security, they will send you a paper check
- If a scammer calls you to discuss your economic impact payment, hang up right away. Do not give out any information over the phone
- No one can speed up how quickly you receive your economic impact payment. If anyone asks you for personal information to help you get your payment faster, they are most likely a fraudster
- If you receive a check in the mail for an amount that does not make sense, it may be an economic impact payment scam. According to the IRS, some scammers send fake checks in the mail and ask that the recipient call to verify information before they cash it. If a victim calls, the scammer may steal their information and money
I Receive Social Security Benefits. How Do I Receive My Economic Impact Payment?
For most retirees, no additional action or information is needed. In most cases, the IRS will deposit economic impact payments into the direct deposit account taxpayers previously used on tax returns, however not all economic impact payment recipients were required to file an income tax return in 2018 or 2019 which are the years the US Treasury is using to determine who receives a check.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury will send Economic Impact Payments by direct deposit or paper check – whatever way the beneficiary is receiving Social Security money now. Payment information for Social Security benefits is designated on US Treasury form SSA-1099 and form RRB-1099.
“Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return do not need to take any action and will receive their payment directly to their bank account,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.