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Friday July 3, 2020

Washington News

Washington Hotline

IRS Warning On COVID–19 Scams

In IR-2020-115, the Internal Revenue Service cautioned taxpayers to be on guard against tax fraud and other financial schemes. The COVID-19 crisis has opened a new door for fraudsters and scammers, who are creating strategies to victimize taxpayers.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig stated, "Criminals seize every opportunity to exploit bad situations, and this pandemic is no exception. The IRS is fully focused on protecting Americans while delivering Economic Impact Payments in record time. The pursuit of those who participate in COVID–19 related scams, intentionally abusing the programs intended to help millions of Americans during these uncertain times, will long remain a significant priority of both the IRS and IRS-CI."

There are a variety of new scams and schemes, such as:
  • Fake At-Home Test Kits – A scammer may offer fraudulent kits, vaccines, pills or other treatments for COVID-19. Other scams promise medical supplies through fake shops, websites and social media accounts. After receiving the funds, no supplies are delivered.
  • Fake Organizations – Some scammers create fake charities that claim to be helping COVID-19 victims. Others claim to offer the chance to invest in a company that is working on a vaccine, developing new drugs or offering other services for COVID-19 victims to generate donations.
  • Phishing Schemes – These phishing schemes may involve emails, letters, texts or links to bogus websites. If you respond to an email or text and click on the link, the scammers will attempt to obtain your passwords and personal information to steal from your financial accounts.
Don Fort, Chief of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, stated, "Criminals try to take advantage of our most vulnerable times and our most vulnerable populations. But because we have seen many of these criminals and schemes before, we know how to find them and we know how to expose them."

If you believe that you are a victim of a scam, you can report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721. You also could submit a web complaint form or report to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at Tips.TIGTA.gov.

Published June 12, 2020
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