Coronavirus Updates

Be COVID scam aware warns COVID-19 fraud task force

US & World

FILE – This April 13, 2014, file photo shows the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) headquarters building in Washington. 2019 was another tough year for the IRS, according to a new federal report. Burdened with years of budget cuts and a recent increase in workload to implement a new tax law, the IRS struggled to deliver on its mission in the past fiscal year. The annual report from the Office of Taxpayer Advocate found that in the 2019 fiscal year, among other problems, the agency failed to collect billions in unpaid taxes. (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)

WASHINGTON DC (WOWK) – The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and West Virginia COVID-19 Fraud Task Force, warns residents of economic impact payment scams being seen throughout the country.

Kelly R. Jackson, special agent in charge of the IRS-CI Washington DC Field Office says the community is experiencing enough hardship right now without needing to worry about scammers.

“IRS-CI, along with our law enforcement counterparts are working hard to protect the public from these thieves,” Jackson says. “These types of investigations are being prioritizing to help protect taxpayers and the tax system” 

Agents say residents should be vigilant of scammers who strive to steal personal information and money. Residents must access tools including “Get My Payment” and “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” on IRS.gov. The IRS site will then transfer residents to FreeFileFillableForms.com. 

The IRS will not text, email or contact anyone on social media asking for personal or bank account information – even related to the economic impact payments. 

“Recently, there has been an increase in phishing schemes utilizing emails, letters, texts and links,” a statement sent to 13 News says. “These contacts will often come in the form of unsolicited email and/or websites that pose as legitimate sites in an effort to lure unsuspecting victims to provide personal and financial information.”

Agents say scammers will often use websites similar to valid ones – for example, IRSGOV, IRS GOV, or using extra letters and/or spaces in lieu of IRS.GOV. 

“We are aware of phishing emails coming from “customer_service@FreeFillableForms.com” which directs you to a link that contains “economic impact payment” and uses a company name similar to the Free File Alliance partner you are transferred to while using the IRS tool for Non-Filers,” the statement says. “DO NOT click on the link – this is a scam.  Other phishing schemes are using keywords such as “Corona Virus”, “COVID-19”, and “Stimulus” in varying ways.”

When visiting a website or when you receive an email containing a link, pay close special attention to web address to ensure it is from a legitimate source. Watch out for emails with attachments or links claiming to have special information about economic impact payments or refunds. Report suspicious emails to phishing@irs.gov .

Bill Powell, U.S. Attorney, the Northern District of West Virginia says so many West Virginia residents are counting on this stimulus to assist them through this uncertain time.

“For someone to prey on that uncertainty and take the very money meant to feed and support our residents is an outrageous crime,” Powell says. “Those scammers will be prosecuted swiftly.”

To report any type of fraud, please call the National Disaster Fraud hotline at 866-720-5721 or go to justice.gov/coronavirus.

To report fraud directly to IRS-CI email WashingtonDCFieldOffice@ci.irs.gov

United States Attorney Mike Stuart says economic impact payments are critical to the many West Virginians who have lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Please heed the warnings of the IRS and don’t let fraudsters and scammers steal your money,” Stuart says. “If you are scammed, please report it and know that my partners and I will utilize all the resources available through our statewide COVID-19 Fraud Task Force to identify and prosecute the fraudsters.”

For more information regarding Economic Impact Payments, visit the IRS website at irs.gov/coronavirus.

For local and breaking news, weather alerts, video and more, download the FREE WOWK 13 News App from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Download the FREE WOWK 13 News App

Washington DC Bureau

More Washington DC Bureau

Don't Miss