Avoid COVID-19 Economic Impact Payment Scams

Whether receiving your Economic Impact Payment via direct deposit or paper check, avoid falling prey to scammers attempting to defraud you.

IRS-Criminal Investigation has provided the following information to keep consumers safe:

“For most Americans, the Economic Impact Payment will be distributed automatically and will result in a direct deposit into the bank account designated by their 2018 or 2019 federal tax return. For eligible recipients who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check, they will receive their economic impact payment in this manner as well. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the Economic Impact Payment with no action required by most eligible recipients.”

– April 3, 2020, IRS-Criminal Investigation Charlotte Field Office

IRS Won’t Contact You

The IRS will not call, text, email or otherwise contact you to ask for your personal information to send your Economic Impact Payment. This includes making contact to ask you to pay a fee or confirm personal information prior to receiving your Economic Impact Payment.

Spotting Scams

IRS Economic Impact Payment scams may look like:

Phone call, text or email asking for payment or confirmation of personal or financial information in connection with the Economic Impact Payment

Payment in an odd amount, (e.g., $1,322.48), or a paper check that requires verification online or by phone

Avoiding Scams

Review these tips to avoid scams:

  • Don’t give out your account information (e.g., bank/credit union account number, card number, PayPal, etc.) to a call, email or text about the Economic Impact Payment.
  • Don’t click links in texts or emails relating to Economic Impact Payments. Scammers could place malware on your electronic devices to gain access to your personal information.
  • Don't engage with scammers or thieves. End the call or delete the texts/emails. Mark the number/email as spam and block the sender.

Recent COVID-19 Fraud

The IRS and other investigative agencies have identified these recent examples of fraud:

Online sales of fake cures for COVID-19 and other forms of fraud

Fraudulent donation requests for illegitimate or non-existent charities

Malicious websites and apps sharing coronavirus-related information that lock access to your device or files until payment is received

Phishing emails posing as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

If you think you are a victim of a pandemic-related fraud, or if someone tries to defraud you, call the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721 or email them at disaster@leo.gov.

In addition to the information above, please review these tips from the Federal Trade Commission.