What We Know About COVID-19 Scams
Fraudsters will capitalize on fear and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure you’re informed and prepared so you don’t become a victim.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Treasury Department (Treasury) have announced taxpayers will soon receive economic impact payments now that Congress passed a COVID-19 relief and stimulus package. Fraudsters are already exploiting this relief and stimulus and capitalizing on the fear, uncertainty and vulnerability many are facing.
Government agencies warn that fraud attempts are expected to continue throughout the pandemic. We want members to be educated and aware so they don't fall for the potential spoofing and phishing attacks they may encounter during this time.
Scams Related to the Stimulus
The IRS has issued a warning for taxpayers. We can expect an influx of calls and email phishing attempts related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and relief funds.
We've already seen examples of fraudulent emails posing as official communications from government agencies. In addition to email, victims may be contacted through SMS/text, robo-calls, or other messaging platforms. Messages are likely to contain links to fraudulent websites that appear legitimate. Those who fall for these scams and enter their personal information quickly become victims of identity theft and tax-related fraud.
Know What to Expect
Information and updates related to the economic impact payments are available on this IRS economic impact payments page.
To help taxpayers avoid falling for scams, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shared this important information.
Likely, You Don't Need to Do Anything – If you filed taxes for 2018 or 2019 and you meet the qualifications, you can expect a payment. If you haven't filed, you'll need to do so before you can receive funds.
No Need to Sign Up – Don't give your personal information to someone instructing you to sign up to receive your relief check.
Direct Deposit – For information about direct deposit, go to the IRS or Treasury websites. Don't respond to unsolicited emails, phone calls or advertisements related to the stimulus payments.
- Refer to this page for IRS direct deposit information. You don't need to do this if you set it up last time you filed your taxes.
- To help speed up the process, the Treasury is also developing a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online.
No Early Access – Don't believe early-access offers. No one knows the timeline for this process so anyone claiming to give you access to these funds early is trying to scam you.
Other Scams Related to COVID-19
We've also been warned about the following emerging trends:
- Imposter Scams – Bad actors impersonate government, international and healthcare agencies. They attempt to solicit donations, steal personal information, or distribute malware.
- Investment Scams – Investors, look out for investment scams related to COVID-19, like false claims about products or services that can detect, cure or prevent coronavirus.
- Product Scams – Watch for companies marketing products that make false health claims pertaining to COVID-19 and fraudulent marketing of supplies related to COVID-19, like face masks.
- Insider Trading – Reports of suspected insider trading related to COVID-19.
If you are the victim of a scam or you encounter a scammer, please report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.