If you receive an email or text message from the IRS about a stimulus check or unemployment claim, watch out — it’s most likely a scam, the agency says.
As tax season heats up, so do fraud attempts. This year, that includes potential scams related to many Covid-19 relief measures, including stimulus checks and unemployment benefits.
The IRS will not initiate contact with you over email or text, unless the text message is related to IRS Secure Access, a two-factor authentication process. A text about a bills or refunds is someone impersonating the agency. The IRS says it also will never send taxpayers messages on social media.
“With filing season underway, this is a prime period for identity thieves to hit people with realistic-looking emails and texts about their tax returns and refunds,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement.
These scams are perpetuated to steal your identity information, money from you directly or, at this time of year, your tax refund. The texts often include links to fake IRS websites or tools, and reference Covid-19 or stimulus payments, according to the agency.
Phone scams are also common, but it is unlikely that the IRS will call you directly. If someone saying they are an IRS agent calls and demands you pay a bill over the phone, hang up. The agency will not solicit payment that way.
Likewise, the IRS does not leave “pre-recorded, urgent or threatening messages,” the agency said in a release. Many of these scams will tell you that if you do not call the number back, an arrest warrant will be issued, the agency will call the police or you will be deported. None of these are legitimate phone calls.
The IRS will never call you making these demands — even if the phone number appears to be from an IRS building, since that can be faked.
In fact, if the IRS does initiate contact with you, it will most likely be through the regular mail. The agency says that if you do owe money in taxes, payments should only be made to the U.S. Treasury, nowhere else.
If you receive one of these unsolicited texts, the agency urges you to take a screenshot of it and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with the date and time you received it and your phone number. Do the same thing with potentially scammy emails, adding them as an attachment to the same email address.