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Agencies warn Virginians of COVID-19 economic impact payment scams

6 April 2020 Covid19 Luray/Page County Shenandoah County Front Royal/Warren County Winchester Frederick County Clarke County News

The Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) are warning taxpayers to be alert about possible scams relating to COVID-19 economic impact payments.

“During this time of crisis, scammers and thieves prey on those most vulnerable in our community in an attempt to personally benefit by stealing their money and personal identifying information,” said Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-CI Washington DC Field Office. “Please help us protect everyone in your community by telling family, friends and elderly neighbors to be on the lookout for these potential scams.”

In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 economic impact payments will be on their way. Most Americans will receive their payment via direct deposit to their bank account. Unbanked individuals who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check will receive their economic impact payment through the mail.

Special Agent in Charge Jackson is offering the following information and tips to spot a scam and understand how the COVID-19 economic impact payments will be issued.

  • The IRS will deposit your payment into the direct deposit account previously provided on your tax return (or, in the alternative, send you a paper check).
  • The IRS will NOT call and ask you to verify payment details. Do NOT give your bank account, debit account, or PayPal account information to anyone — even if someone claims it is necessary to get your check. It is a scam.
  • If you receive a call, do NOT engage with scammers. Just hang up.
  • If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal information or by clicking on links, delete them. Do NOT click on any links or respond to those texts or emails.
  • Reports are circulating about bogus checks. If you receive a “check” in the mail now, it is a scam. It will take the Department of Treasury a few more weeks to mail out economic impact payment checks. If you receive a “check” for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires you to verify the check online or by calling a number, it is a scam.
  • Remember, the federal government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get a legitimate benefit. No fees, no charges. Anyone who asks for an up-front payment for a promised benefit is a scammer.

Additional information regarding the Virginia Coronavirus Task Force can be found here. For more information regarding economic impact payments, click here. 

To report a COVID-19 fraud scheme or suspicious activity, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling the NCDF Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or sending an email to disaster@leo.gov.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here. 

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