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IRS warns Alabamians to be on the lookout for COVID-19 scams

Find out how you can reduce the risk of being victimized by criminals using the recently approved payments as an opportunity for scams.

ALABAMA, USA — The IRS warned Alabama taxpayers today to be alert about possible scams relating to COVID-19 economic impact payments.

“While the crisis has brought out the very best in most Americans, there are those unfortunate exceptions among us that the rule of law will deal with,” U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town said. “Alabamians and Americans need to remain vigilant and not fall for the fraudsters, hucksters, and con artists. Contemplate before you click. Investigate before you give information. Deliberate before you donate. You are your own first line of defense.”

RELATED: How to report COVID-19 scams

COVID-19 economic impact payments will be on their way to taxpayers in a matter of weeks. 

For most Americans, the payment will come in the form of a direct deposit into your bank account. For those without a bank account, elderly or other groups who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check, they will receive their economic impact payment in the same manner as they have received their income tax refund.

“This is a time when ruthless criminals might seek to take advantage of any opportunity to prey upon unsuspecting individuals in an effort to line their own pockets by stealing your money or your personal information,” said Demetrius Hardeman, Assistant Special Agent in Charge IRS-CI.

Scammers may try to get you to sign over your check to them or attempt to get you to “verify” your filing information as a ploy to steal your identity, and then use your personal information at a later date to file fraudulent tax returns. 

Because of this, everyone receiving money from the government as a result of the COVID-19 economic impact payment is potentially at risk.

RELATED: Be on the lookout for stimulus check scams

Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Demetrius Hardeman, offers the following information to help taxpayers, as well as offer some helpful tips to protect against possible scams and fraud:

  • The IRS will deposit your check into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return (or, in the alternative, send you a paper check).
  • The IRS will not call and ask you to verify your payment details. 
  • Do not give out your bank account, debit account, or PayPal account information - even if someone claims it's necessary to get your check. It's a scam.
  • If you receive a call, don't engage with callers/potential scammers or thieves. Just hang up.
  • If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal information or clicking on links, delete them. 
  • Don't click on any links in emails or texts.
  • Reports are also circulating about bogus checks. If you receive a “check” in the mail now, it’s a fraud - it will take the Treasury a few weeks to get the payment process underway. 
  • If you receive a “check” for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires that you verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a fraud.

In these uncertain and trying times, we need to stand together united with purpose. Don’t become a victim by allowing criminals to exploit the current need for economic assistance. 

Taxpayers are encouraged to report COVID-19 economic impact payment scams, along with elder abuse scams, identity theft, unscrupulous return preparers, data breaches and cybercrimes to the Atlanta Field Office of IRS Criminal Investigations at AtlantaFieldOffice@ci.irs.gov