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As millions of Americans receive their economic impact payments from the federal government this week, the IRS is concerned some recipients could fall victim to scammers.
"Unfortunately there are fraudsters out there who will attempt to victimize vulnerable people during these trying times," Michael Montanez, acting special agent in charge for the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, said in a statement. "Everyone should be wary of swindlers trying to steal their COVID-19 Economic Impact Payment, as well as crooked individuals trying to take advantage of the crisis by tricking people into unnecessarily turning over their personal, sensitive information.”
So what should you be on the watch for? Here are some ways the IRS is expecting criminals to attempt to prey on individuals:
- They may try to get you to sign your check over to them
- They may ask you to “verify” your filing information in order to receive your money, using your personal information at a later date for schemes like filing a fraudulent tax return
- They may also send you a fake check that may require you to verify it online or by calling a number
The agency is reminding everyone that it will not call to verify your information, nor will it text or email you. It is also reminding people that it has not begun to send out paper checks yet – but if you receive a check for an odd amount (i.e. with cents) or one that requires any sort of verification, it is fraud.
Individuals can track their cash via the “Get My Payment” page on the IRS’ website.
It’s not just scammers that Americans need to be worried about, either. As previously reported by FOX Business, officials are concerned that debt collectors may garnish the cash before consumers ever get their hands on it. They are asking the Treasury Department to designate the payments as exempt from garnishment.
The economic impact payments will be $1,200 per adult for those with adjusted gross incomes of up to $75,000. The threshold for married couples is $150,000 – they are eligible for $2,400 and $500 per child.
As many as 80 million Americans were expected to receive their payments in their direct deposit accounts as of Wednesday.
The IRS is expected to begin mailing paper checks next week. However, for those who would prefer to receive their money via direct deposit – but don’t have their details on file with the IRS – the tax agency launched a new tool on Wednesday that allows individuals to input their information to receive the funds electronically.
Late Monday, the government also got approval from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to issue the payments on prepaid cards as a potentially safer and faster alternative to paper checks. The method has been advocated for reaching underbanked individuals.