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Nationwide phone scam sends texts about fake COVID-19 stimulus payment

(File, AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

Keep an eye on your incoming text messages for a COVID-19-related phone scam.

This latest scam involves con artists posing as the IRS and trying to trick people into thinking they’re getting another COVID-19 stimulus payment so that they’ll hand over their bank account information.

“The scam states, ‘You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from the COVID-19 Treasury Fund,’ and that further action is required to accept this payment into your account,” explained IRS spokesperson David Tucker. “And then it asks them to click to a certain link that takes them to a fake phishing web address.”

Tucker said if the IRS is actually trying to get in touch with you, they will send a form in the mail asking you to contact them.

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“The IRS does not reach out to taxpayers using text messages, nor do we solicit personal financial information over the phone, or via text messages, or social media or email,” he said. “So we always want people to be very leery whenever they get something from someone claiming to be the IRS. It’s better to go to the source and go to us directly and see if in fact we’re trying to contact you.”

He recommends people notify family members who may be vulnerable to scammers to beware of these texts.

“It’s always good to warn your elderly relatives or even children that have cell phones that if they ever get a call from anyone asking for personal financial information, that they never provide that over the phone,” he said.

Law enforcement agencies across the country are currently investigating this phone scam. If you do get one of these texts, you can aid the investigation by taking a screenshot of the message and emailing it to [email protected]

To learn more about economic impact payments, visit the IRS Economic Impact Payment Information Center. You can also see a list of current phone scams to watch for on the IRS’ website.

If you need to speak to the IRS, call the agency directly.

“Talk to an actual IRS representative if you are concerned about any outreach from the Internal Revenue Service,” Tucker said.

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