If an email from the IRS shows up in your inbox promising to send you a new stimulus check — all you have to do is click on this link — the temptation to engage with that email will likely be irresistible for many people. That IRS scam email, however, should be avoided like plague, according to a warning from the Federal Trade Commission.
If you get a missive along these lines, you should know: The IRS does not initiate contact by email. Nor text messages or social media channels. The tax agency uses none of those methods to request personal or financial information. “Also,” the IRS warns, “watch out for emails with attachments or links claiming to have special information about Economic Impact Payments or refunds.”
Watch out for this IRS scam email
People’s desperation for a new stimulus payment, or even just information about how to get a new one, is what likely overrides the caution that would otherwise protect them from this danger. Nevertheless, the FTC’s warning states that the fake IRS email pretends that recipients can get a new stimulus check if you click on a link that lets you “access the form for your additional information” and “get help” with the application.
“But the link is a trick,” the FTC says. If you click it, a scammer might steal your money and your personal information to commit identity theft. It’s yet another version of the classic government impersonator scam.”
Alternatively, the IRS’ own website is the most authoritative and best source for the most trustworthy information on stimulus checks. Also, be aware that recipients of stimulus checks will generally get them automatically if they’re eligible. Or if the IRS already has the necessary information it needs from you to determine your eligibility.
New stimulus check
This includes the child tax credit payments, with two more scheduled to go out this year. One is coming in two weeks, on November 15. And the sixth and final child tax credit payment will go out on December 15.
If you’re waiting on those payments, the FTC wants you to be aware of this. “If you get a message with a link from someone claiming to be from the IRS or another government agency, don’t click on it. It’s a scam. Scammers will often send fake links to websites or use bogus email addresses and phone numbers that seem to be from the government.”
According to data from the FTC, almost 12,500 Americans have filed fraud reports during the pandemic that allege a government imposter scam. And those victims have reported losing around $17.6 million.
You can visit ftc.gov/imposters to find out more about government impersonators. Also, to learn more about the signs of a scam, what to do, and how to report it to government officials, check out ftc.gov/scams.