IRS warns Michiganders of new wave of COVID-19 scams as stimulus checks are sent out

IRS issues alert for new summertime scams
Posted at 12:24 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 12:24:57-05

(WXYZ) — The IRS is warning Michiganders about a new wave of COVID-19 scams as the second round of stimulus payments is delivered throughout the state.

In the last several months, the agency said it has seen a variety of scams relating to Economic Impact Payments and others to steal money and personal information.

“While scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their efforts, taxpayers can still act as the first line of defense using some of these tips,” said Sarah Kull Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office. “Taking some very basic precautions could mean protection against a potentially costly scam.”

Some of the common COVID-19 scams include:

  • Text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.
  • Phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with key words such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in varying ways. These communications are blasted to large numbers of people and aim to access personally identifying information and financial account information (including account numbers and passwords).
  • The organized and unofficial sale of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits (as well as offers to sell fake cures, vaccines, pills, and professional medical advice regarding unproven COVID-19 treatments).
  • Fake donation requests for individuals, groups and areas heavily affected by the disease.
  • Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result.

The IRS is reminding people that they do not send unsolicited texts or emails, and does not threaten people with jail or lawsuits, or demand tax payments on gift cards.

COVID-19 scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submitted through the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.