Falling victim to a scam is the last thing you need right now. Unfortunately, there will always be con artists who prey on innocent people during times of duress, so your best defense is to learn the signs of a scam and be on guard against them.
Economic impact payment fraud. Any time the government releases large amounts of money, scammers will may devise methods to get their hands on some of it. With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, law enforcement is already expecting an uptick in fraud regarding the economic impact payments sent to millions of Americans by the IRS.
Be wary of anyone who calls or emails you, instructing you to enter bank account information or other sensitive data in order to claim your payment. The IRS already has that information on file if you file your taxes electronically. Otherwise, they will send you a paper check. No one will call or email you asking for information.
Scammers might also refer to a “stimulus check” or “stimulus payment” rather than using the official term, “economic impact payment”.
If you want to provide your bank account information to the IRS, you may do so by visiting their website directly at www.irs.gov/coronavirus
Medical fraud. Call your doctor or an official testing center to inquire about coronavirus testing and treatments. If you receive information about a home test, preventive treatment, or vaccine that you can order from home, exercise extreme suspicion. No preventive treatments or vaccines have been approved by the FDA at this time, so you can assume these offers to be frauds. Only one test has been approved for home use, but it will require a doctor’s order.
Suspicious health officials. It is highly unlikely that the CDC or WHO will contact you personally to inquire about your health status. In most cases these calls or emails originate from con artists who want to access your health or financial information. Exercise extreme caution with regard to websites that include “coronavirus” or “covid” in their names.
Charity scams. Emotions are running high right now, and most of us want to help any way we can. But before you donate to a fund to help coronavirus patients, unemployed workers, or anyone else, check that the charity is listed on the IRS website. If it’s not listed, it’s probably a phony.
If you have any other questions regarding charitable contributions or financial planning in general, please call our office and we’ll be happy to help guide you through this difficult time.