The IRS is warning consumers that if they get a text that promises a $1,200 stimulus check, not to click on it. It is a phishing scam that won’t provide any money but instead, trick you into disclosing your personal bank account and financial information.
Cybercriminals are preying on the hardship that many consumers are experiencing during the coronavirus pandemic and the Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry are urging consumers to be more vigilant, the IRS said in a statement.
The scam text message sent by the cybercriminals, according to the IRS, states “You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment into your account. Continue here to accept this payment …”
The text then includes a link to a fake phishing web address that may look authentic because it appears to come from a state agency or relief organization, but it is not. It lures recipients to a fraudulent website that impersonates the IRS.gov Get My Payment website.
The IRS explained in their release that the fake website asks the recipient to send “their personal and financial account information.” A red flag undoubtedly, since the actual personal information the IRS website requests is your Social Security number, date of birth and bank information.
Another red flag, the IRS noted, is that their organization and other state agencies would never text taxpayers asking for their bank account information. IRS Commissioner Chuck Retting called this scam "a new twist" on those they’ve already been seeing this year.
“Criminals are relentlessly using COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments as cover to try and trick taxpayers out of their money or identities,” said Retting. “We urge people to remain alert to these types of scams.”
The IRS advises that people who do receive this text scam to take a screenshot of the text message and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information: date, time and the time zone in which they received the text message, the number that appeared on their caller ID and the number that received the text message.
The IRS said those who believe they are eligible for the Economic Impact Payment should go directly to their website at IRS.gov. And, those who do not have a filing requirement but who are eligible for EIP can use their non-filers tool on IRS.gov until Nov. 21 to claim their payment.