The IRS is warning people against stimulus check scams. With almost everyone receiving a check for up to $1200, scammers know that there’s money to be stolen. Here’s how to keep your payment safe.
First of all, the government is not calling it a stimulus check. Although that’s how most of us are referring to the checks, the IRS and other government agencies have a different term.
Any official communication from the government will call the money an “Economic Impact Payment.”
If you receive a phone call, email, letter, or text that claims to be from the government, do not trust the communication.
Here’s the official word:
The IRS will not call, email, or text you about your Payment. The IRS will not contact you to request personal or bank account information. Watch out for websites and social media attempts that request money or personal information and for schemes tied to Economic Impact Payments.
If you have an issue with your payment–either because you didn’t receive it or believe that you got the wrong amount–you’ll need to contact the IRS. They won’t initiate contact with you.
This is a good rule of thumb to avoid all phishing schemes. If you get an email that seems strange in any way, don’t click on a link or attachment. That’s how you end up downloading malware onto your device.
“We urge people to take extra care during this period. 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,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “That also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Remember, don’t open them or click on attachments or links.”
This step requires a little bit of internet savvy, but it’s important to keep yourself safe. The only official place to check on your Economic Impact Payment is https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.
If you want to visit the IRS’s website, you must see the “.gov” domain extension. Only the federal government can use websites with that domain. Thousands of fake sites are out there, just waiting for you to make a mistake.
These fraud sites might not be after your money directly. Instead, they’ll try to trick you into giving them your personal information. For example, if you have not received your check yet, a fake site could pose as a form to update your bank account information. Instead of sending that info to the IRS, you’re delivering into the hands of scammers.
Stay smart, stay safe, and stay skeptical.