IRS warns South Carolinians of potential COVID-19 relief payment scams

IRS warns South Carolinians of potential COVID-19 relief payment scams
How to avoid coronavirus scams

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – As the Internal Revenue Service continues to distribute the second round of Economic Impact Payments, the agency is urging South Carolinians to be on the lookout for scams.

In the last several months, the IRS has seen a variety of scams and other financial schemes designed to steal money and personal information from taxpayers, a press release from the IRS Charlotte Field Office states.

“As this second round of Economic Impact Payments are being issued and as we approach tax filing season, I’d like to remind taxpayers to remain vigilant. Fraudsters continue to exploit this pandemic to victimize the American public by seeking ways to gain access to taxpayer’s personal and financial information in an effort to line their own pockets,” said Special Agent in Charge Matthew D. Line.

According to the IRS, 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.

Authorities say the best way to avoid falling victim to a scam is knowing how the IRS communicates with taxpayers.

The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails and will not call people with threats of jail or lawsuits. In addition, the agency will never demand tax payments on gift cards.

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 here.

In addition, 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.

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