July 17, 2024

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued a warning regarding scams that impersonate government officials, particularly targeting the elderly. These scammers pretend to be IRS or other law enforcement agency personnel, attempting to extract money and private information from victims. This article provides information on how these scams work, particularly with regards to stimulus payment and rebate scams.

Exploring Stimulus Payment Scams

In light of the ongoing Stimulus Payment Scams 2024, fraudsters have a fresh opportunity to trick people. There are reports of increased cases of stimulus payment fraud in the wake of government payment and rebates. People yet to receive their stimulus funds from the IRS could be more susceptible to scams, particularly in the current economic climate.

So far, Americans have already lost millions to fraud related to stimulus payments and COVID-19 since January 2020. The IRS distributes stimulus funds through one of three methods: direct deposit, prepaid cards, or mailed checks.

How Fraudsters Trap You in Rebate and Government Payment Scams

Mailbox Theft

One common way scammers carry out this type of fraud is by simply taking your check from your mailbox. The checks are easily identifiable as they come from the US Department of Treasury. Once the check is in their possession, the scammer signs it and sells it.

To counter this, you can prepare for when your check is due to arrive. USPS users can additionally set up an informed delivery account to get a digital preview of incoming mail. If mail theft is a real concern, you can put your mail on hold and pick it up from your local post office.

Identity Theft

Unbeknownst to you, someone could have stolen your identity and utilized your personal information to collect your check. The con artist can redirect your funds into their account if they have access to your social security number and date of birth.

Online Scams

Online scams are rampant, especially now with more people using the internet to connect. Scammers often use phishing emails or texts to trick people. The scammer may pretend to be an IRS or government employee and ask you to verify personal details. Always avoid clicking links from social media posts or emails. Note that IRS officials will never ask for your social security number through email or text.

Phone Call Fraud

Scammers can also reach you through your landline or mobile phone. They can be convincing and might even know personal details about you, prompting you to think they are legitimate. However, be cautious of anyone asking about your stimulus check, especially given the heightened scam activities currently.

How Can You Dodge the Scam?

  • If you’re getting an unexpected call from someone claiming to be the IRS without receiving any mail notice prior, end the call immediately.
  • Never use the given number or the one that appears on your caller ID for communications. Use IRS.gov to verify your tax accounts.
  • Remember, the IRS will contact you via the US Postal Service. Stay vigilant. Suspected fraudsters can be reported at ftc.gov/complaint. For official updates and more details, visit IRS’s page on economic impact payments.

Avoid Gall Unknown Calls, Texts Or Emails

Scammers use phone number spoofing to masquerade as the IRS or other government bodies. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from a legitimate organization, try establishing a separate line of communication, like asking for a return phone number. Scammers generally push for immediate action and are hesitant to provide contact details.

Never Reveal Your Personal Information

A common form of stimulus check scam is being asked to “apply” for the payment via an email, SMS, or social media post. The scammers will then ask for personal data like your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card information. The link they provide could hide malware intended to harm your device and allow the scammer to access your data.

**Q: How can I prevent mailbox theft?**
A: Be prepared for when your check is due and closely monitor your mail. USPS offers an informed delivery service, allowing you to see a digital preview of your incoming mail. If theft is a significant concern, opt to have your mail held so you can pick it up from the post office.

**Q: What should I do if I receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be the IRS?**
A: End the call immediately. Never use the given contact details for further communication. Ensure you confirm the details of your tax account through IRS.gov.

**Q: How can I avoid online scams?**
A: Be cautious with emails, social media posts, or text messages asking you to verify your personal information. Never click links within these messages. The IRS will never request your Social Security number via email or text. If you suspect a scam, report it via ftc.gov/complaint.