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The IRS has issued a warning to US taxpayers to be wary of Coronavirus-related scams, after news emerged last week that overseas Americans are eligible for rebates after the passage of the CARES Act..
The particular message issued by the IRS encourages taxpayers to "be on the lookout for a surge of calls and email phishing attempts about the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. These contacts can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft."
Explaining the warning, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said "We urge people to take extra care during this period. The IRS isn't going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster ... That also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Remember, don't open them or click on attachments or links. Go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information."
In their warning, the IRS highlights that in most cases, they will "deposit economic impact payments into the direct deposit account taxpayers previously provided on tax returns". For those who have not provided details of a direct deposit account, a new portal will be launched on the official IRS website (IRS.gov) in mid-April to allow taxpayers to provide banking information. If the IRS does not have details of a direct deposit account, checks will be mailed to Americans via the mailing address on their file.
The IRS notes that seniors may be targeted by some of these scams, so if you have elderly relatives who are isolating, make sure to advise them of some of the tell-tale methods of scammers, which the IRS have highlighted below:
The IRS reminds taxpayers that scammers may:
- Emphasize the words "Stimulus Check" or "Stimulus Payment." The official term is economic impact payment.
- Ask the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
- Ask by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information saying that the information is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact payment.
- Suggest that they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer's behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.
- Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.
For the full IRS Warning, go to IRS.gov.
There is also a free webinar taking placeon April 7, hosted by AARO, Bright!Tax and US Tax expert Monte Silver, to help overseas Americans in particular understand the CARES Act rebates.
Essential Weekly Reads for Overseas Americans. Free