IRS Warns of New Text Scam Related to $1,200 COVID-19 Stimulus Checks

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on Nov. 9, 2020

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Yellow signs labeled "Scam Alert"

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Don't fall victim to this scam, or your bank information could be at risk.


As millions of Americans wait and hope that Washington, D.C. lawmakers sign off on another coronavirus stimulus check, crooks are taking advantage of their eagerness.

In fact, the IRS recently issued a warning about a new text scam related to COVID-19 stimulus payments -- one that could lead to the stealing of your bank information if you fall for it.

"Criminals are relentlessly using COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments as cover to try to trick taxpayers out of their money or identities," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "This scam is a new twist on those we've been seeing much of this year. We urge people to remain alert to these types of scams."

According to the IRS, scammers are sending out a text message to try to trick people into providing their bank details. The fraudulent message states: "You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment into your account. Continue here to accept this payment."

A link in the text message takes consumers to a page impersonating the legitimate "Get My Payment" website, which the IRS set up to help people track the delivery of their COVID-19 money. The texted link is actually a fake phishing URL, not the official government website.

The fraudulent page requests that you input personal and financial account information. Unfortunately, those who fall victim to the scam are giving their details to criminals who can use them for nefarious purposes.

The IRS urges you to remember: The agency will never send unsolicited emails or texts, nor will it call people to threaten jail time, or to demand tax payments be sent via gift cards.

If you receive this text, do not click on any links it includes. Instead, the IRS requests that you send a screenshot of it via email to [email protected], along with the phone number the text was sent to; the number that appeared with the text on your caller ID; and the date, time, and time zone the fraudulent text was received.

What to do if you think you might be owed a stimulus payment

Clicking on the scam link will not help you obtain any COVID-19 money you are actually owed.

The CARES Act, signed into law in March of this year, provided payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per dependent child. Most people have received these payments already. Those who have not yet obtained their funds should go directly to the IRS.gov website created to provide information about the payments. That official website will help you track the status of your payment or register for one if you are entitled to receive it but haven't yet.

Lawmakers have been negotiating to pass a second stimulus check as a followup to the CARES Act payments, but have thus far been unsuccessful. Therefore, if you already received your initial coronavirus stimulus check, you do not have any more money on the way from Uncle Sam yet.

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