IRS warns of scams as $600 assistance checks spur new schemes

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The IRS is warning of scams that are targeting the recent $600 checks Nevadans received in the second round of COVID-19 relief.

The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division says a variety of scams and financial schemes have emerged as criminals try to trick people out of the second round of federal assistance.

Some common COVID-19 scams include:

  • Text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.
  • Phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with key words such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in varying ways. These communications are blasted to large numbers of people and aim to access personally identifying information and financial account information including account numbers and passwords.
  • The organized and unofficial sale of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits, as well as offers to sell fake cures, vaccines, pills, and professional medical advice regarding unproven COVID-19 treatments.
  • Fake donation requests for individuals, groups and areas heavily affected by the disease.
  • Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result.

The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails. The IRS does not call people with threats of jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards.

“The past year has hit many families in Nevada and around the country hard, both financially and physically,” Special Agent in Charge Tara Sullivan of IRS Criminal Investigation said. “Now that Congress has approved further financial relief for Americans, it’s even more unfortunate that criminals have renewed their efforts to intercept these funds as well. I urge all citizens of Nevada to be vigilant and aware of these fraudulent attempts by criminals to take their relief funds.”

COVID-19 scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submitted through the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

Taxpayers can also report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Reports can be made online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.

Taxpayers who receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, should forward the message to phishing@irs.gov. Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone.

To learn more about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes visit IRS.gov. Official IRS information about COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page, which is updated frequently.

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