WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service issued a warning to consumers on Thursday to be wary of calls and email-phishing attempts related to the novel coronavirus.
“The IRS isn't going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster," IRS commissioner Chuck Rettig said, noting that the agency would not be sending surprise emails either.
The IRS also warned of scams from text messages, websites and social media that attempt to garner money or personal info as consumers are waiting for their economic impact payment.
Economic impact payments will be distributed into the direct deposit account that taxpayers previously provided on their returns.
Individuals who have not previously provided their direct deposit information will be able to do so through a new secure portal on IRS.gov in Mid-April, the agency noted.
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As such, individuals should not share their direct deposit information with other parties.
Checks will be mailed to a taxpayer’s address on file if the IRS does not have their direct deposit information.
The agency has also noted common tactics or methods that scammers may use to swindle taxpayers. These include:
-Emphasizing the terms “stimulus check” or “stimulus payment,” rather than the official phrasing of “economic impact payment"
-Requesting that taxpayers sign over their payment check
-Asking through phone, email, text and on other platforms for personal/banking information, claiming that it is necessary to process or speed up payments
-Parties suggesting that if they work on a taxpayer’s behalf, they may receive a tax refund or an expedited payment
-Mailing a bogus check to taxpayers and request that they call a number or provide personal information to cash it
The IRS is the latest federal agency that has urged consumers to be wary of COVID-19 related scams.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued similar warnings about phone and text scams. The FBI has also made consumers aware of text message scheme, including one where scammers claim to be representatives of Costco.
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This story was reported from Los Angeles.