Avoid Being Fooled by Stimulus Scams

April 01, 2020

Something that is very important to us is bringing awareness to our clients about potential scammers trying to separate them from their hard earned money. We've reviewed this theme a few times before in the following posts:

Protect Yourself from Scammers
Detecting an IRS Impersonator
6 Ways to Combat Identity Theft
"Dirty Dozen" Tax Scams to Watch For

With today being April Fool's Day, we wanted to bring attention to recent Coronavirus stimulus scams. Skilled scammers are jumping on the opportunity to fool and take advantage of people. Here are a few examples of scams going around:

IRS Scams Asking for Information for Stimulus Checks
Utilities Scams Asking for Bill to Be Paid or Power Will Be Shut Off
Scam Offering Coronavirus Vaccines and Medical Supplies

For now, this is what we know from irs.gov (check back to https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus frequently for updates)

Q: How will the IRS know where to send my payment?
A:The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible. For people who have already filed their 2019 tax returns, the IRS will use this information to calculate the payment amount. For those who have not yet filed their return for 2019, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax filing to calculate the payment. The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return filed.

Q: The IRS does not have my direct deposit information. What can I do?
In the coming weeks, Treasury plans to develop a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online, so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.

Q: I am not typically required to file a tax return. Can I still receive my payment?
Yes. People who typically do not file a tax return will need to file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment. Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will not owe tax.

Q: How can I file the tax return needed to receive my economic impact payment?
A: IRS.gov/coronavirus will soon provide information instructing people in these groups on how to file a 2019 tax return with simple, but necessary, information including their filing status, number of dependents and direct deposit bank account information.

Q: I have not filed my tax return for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive an economic impact payment?
Yes. The IRS urges anyone with a tax filing obligation who has not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 to file as soon as they can to receive an economic impact payment. Taxpayers should include direct deposit banking information on the return.

As your advisors, we want to do everything in our power to help keep you protected. If you feel unsure about any offer you are given (or are currently involved with), PLEASE give our office a call and we will help you research the offer and coordinate filing a claim to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if they are, in fact, fraudulent. Please do not feel embarrassed if you have fallen victim to any of these offers. Scammers are very skilled, do not abide by any type of ethical code, and materials can look very official and be very convincing. It can honestly happen to anyone, and these instances need to be reported. 

If you've found this information valuable, please forward to your loved ones to bring awareness. Stay safe out there.

Content in this material is for general information only, and not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.