HELENA - As the second round of Economic Impact Payments is being delivered, Montana taxpayers are being warned of a new wave of COVID-19 related scams.
The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) says they have seen a variety of scams and other financial schemes designed to steal money and personal information from taxpayers in the last several months.
From the IRS-CI, some common COVID-19 scams include:
Text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.
Phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with key words such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in varying ways. These communications are blasted to large numbers of people and aim to access personally identifying information and financial account information (including account numbers and passwords).
The organized and unofficial sale of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits (as well as offers to sell fake cures, vaccines, pills, and professional medical advice regarding unproven COVID-19 treatments).
Fake donation requests for individuals, groups and areas heavily affected by the disease.
Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result.
If you come across a COVID-19 scam, you should report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at t 1-866-720-5721 or submit it through the NCDF Web Complaint Form here. You can also forward any unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS to email@example.com.
Fraud or theft from taxpayer’s Economic Impact Payments can be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Reports can be made online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.
The IRS-CI says taxpayers can help protect themselves by knowing how the IRS communicates, adding that the IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails, call people with threats of jail or lawsuits, or demand tax payments on gift cards.