Tax filing season — delayed deadlines or not — is a good time for scammers to ply their dirty tricks to steal taxpayers’ identities and money. The coronavirus outbreak has provided them a huge further incentive.
The Internal Revenue Service and its Criminal Investigation Division last week reported a surge of calls and email phishing about COVID-19 against taxpayers. These contacts, the agency said, can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft.
“We urge people to take extra care during this period,” IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said in a statement. “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.”
Rettig said this also applied to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. “Remember, don’t open them or click on attachments or links. Go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information.”
Taxpayers should watch not only for emails but also for text messages, websites and social media attempts that request money or personal information.
“History has shown that criminals take every opportunity to perpetrate a fraud on unsuspecting victims, especially when a group of people is vulnerable or in a state of need,” the IRS criminal investigation chief Don Fort said in the statement.
“While you are waiting to hear about your economic impact payment, criminals are working hard to trick you into getting their hands on it.”