With COVID-19 still rampant and tax filing season near, thieves have been busy tricking honest Americans out of their hard-earned money, warned Michael Montanez, the special agent in charge of the IRS – Criminal Investigation Field Office in Newark.
Aiming to protect them, Montanez assembled information to help New Jersey taxpayers protect their finances and not “fall victim to criminals looking to take advantage of them.”
Look out for:
- Text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving their $600 Economic Impact payments;
- 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 coronavirus treatments);
- Fake donation requests for individuals, groups and areas heavily affected by the virus;
- Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result;
- Phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with key words such as “coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” to get you to click.
Although criminals are constantly changing their tactics, taxpayers can easily protect themselves, Montanez said.
The most important things to remember:
- The IRS DOESN’T send unsolicited texts or emails;
- The IRS DOESN’T call people with threats of jail or lawsuits;
- The IRS DOESN'T demand tax payments on gift cards (ANYONE who demands payment via a gift card for any reason is a thief).
You can report scams involving COVID-19 or anything else to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 1-866-720-5721.
Or use this: NCDF Web Complaint Form
The NCDF is a national coordinating agency within the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division dedicated to improving the detection, prevention, investigation and prosecution of criminal conduct related to natural and man-made disasters and other emergencies.
NOTE: If you have elderly parents, relatives, neighbors or friends whom you think could use the information, please share this story with them. Warn them about the dangers and advise them on how to respond.
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