Scammers Create Fake Unclaimed Stimulus Verification Websites

“The IRS will not call you, text you, email you, or contact you on social media to request personal or banking information,” the FTC attorney said, Seena Gressin.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, a long list of scams and schemes has circulated in relation to coronavirus tax relief and economic impact payments, also known as stimulus checks. This problem was so prevalent that in July 2020 the IRS published a “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams, urging Americans to remain vigilant during the pandemic and its aftermath.

On May 17, VERIFY viewer Diane received an email from a non-government website claiming it would help her find unclaimed stimulus check money.

THE QUESTION

Are Scammers Creating Fake Unclaimed Stimulus Verification Websites?

THE SOURCES

  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Seena Gressin, Lawyer, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer and Business Education Division

THE ANSWER

Yes, scammers create fake unclaimed stimulus checking websites.

WHAT WE FOUND

On the IRS ‘Dirty Dozen listing, the agency warns, “Taxpayers should be on the lookout for possible fake emails or websites that seek to steal personal information. The IRS will never contact taxpayers by email about a tax bill, refund, or economically impacting payment. ”

While the website that emailed Diane complaints This is a private company in no way affiliated with any government agencies, it requires users to enter their personal information in order to receive a “free guide” on how to request unclaimed stimulus checks.

In the ‘Phishing’ category on the IRS list, the agency says it ‘has seen a dramatic increase in phishing schemes using emails, letters, texts and links’ during its criminal investigation .

“These phishing schemes use keywords like ‘coronavirus’, ‘COVID-19’ and ‘Stimulus’ in various ways,” according to the IRS. “These systems are slammed on a large number of people for the purpose of obtaining personally identifying information or financial account information, including account numbers and passwords. Most of these new programs actively play on the fear and the unknown of the virus and stimulus payments. “

Seena Gressin, an attorney with the FTC’s Consumer and Business Education Division, told VERIFY: “Identity theft is an equal opportunity scam. Anyone can become a victim. We urge all consumers to protect their personal information at all times. ”

She also sent a list of tips on how to avoid stimulus payment scams:

  1. Single use irs.gov/coronavirus to submit information to the IRS – and never in response to a call, text, or email.
  2. The IRS will not contact you by phone, email, text, or social media to provide you with information about your stimulus payment, or to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card account number. debit for government benefits. Anyone who does is a phishing scammer for your info.
  3. You don’t have to pay to get your stimulus money.
  4. The IRS won’t tell you to deposit your stimulus check and then send them money back because they paid you more than they owed you. It’s a fake check scam.

“Also beware of emails and texts with attachments or links claiming to have special payment information. They are wrong, and they can be Phishing for your personal information or could download malware to your computer, tablet or phone, ”said Gressin.

Looking for unclaimed money or goods unrelated to stimulus checks? The Treasury Department Tax reserve office recommends the website of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Managers: www.unclaimed.org. On its website, the Bureau of Fiscal Reserve also shares a list of government agencies which have databases where you can search for unclaimed money.

More from VERIFY: Yes, President Biden’s letter to recipients of stimulus payments is real

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About Geraldine Higgins

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