Don’t Fall for Fraud06/17/2020
With so many things going on in the world at this time, it is easy to get distracted and fall for scams and fraud. Those with nefarious goals are using deceitful emails, text messages and phone scams to steal tax refunds, PPP loan funds, and government stimulus checks – along with lots of other money – so don’t be one of those taken by their carefully crafted scams.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Payments & Refunds
While the IRS may take a lot of flak, they are typically quite efficient at distributing payments. Do not be fooled by anyone offering to help you get your checks faster or any third party claiming to hold or distribute the checks on behalf of the IRS.
When possible, the IRS is direct depositing funds directly into taxpayer accounts, using the account information you provided on your 2018 or 2019 tax returns. If you didn’t have a refund direct deposited on your last return, you may receive a stimulus debit card or paper check instead. If you have questions about these payments, contact the IRS directly. They are not using any outside parties for these payments, no matter what you hear via email, phone or text.
Common Phone Scams
Keep in mind that the IRS will never call, text or email to ask for your PIN, password or any confidential information, so don’t believe anyone who is requesting it. Scammers often try to pose as IRS agents or even bank employees to get sensitive information, or more often, ask you to verify sensitive information, such as bank account credentials and Social Security Numbers.
To protect yourself, let calls from unknown numbers go directly to voicemail. If you do answer one of these calls, ask where they are calling from and confirm the request with the organization by using their published phone number or web address. Only bother with this step, however, if it is an organization you recognize as a resource you use (i.e. your bank, mortgage company, etc.).
Email and Text Message Scams
Email scams have been around for a long time, but in recent years, scammers are frequently using text messages as an entry point too. The most common way is to send you a link that looks legitimate and important, asking you to click on it to confirm some information or to see something valuable to you. Do not fall for this or click on any links you receive from unknown sources. In some cases, you may even want to confirm a link is legitimate even if it comes from someone you know or an organization you patronize. These phishing attacks are common for a reason: spammers find that many people easily fall for them.
If you receive any of these types of scams, or the myriad others that are out there, report them to the proper authority as soon as you can. For IRS scams, email the details to firstname.lastname@example.org. If it is someone posing as your bank, call the bank directly or email their fraud department. Google is your friend in these types of cases and typically a quick search can help you find where you need to report these types of activities. Be aware and careful!