ADOR warns of scams related to upcoming stimulus checks

Coronavirus

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — The Alabama Department of Revenue would like to remind taxpayers to be vigilant about protecting their personal and financial information.

This comes after President Donald Trump signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package to help Americans who have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The full press release from ADOR is below:

The Alabama Department of Revenue would like to remind taxpayers to be vigilant about protecting their personal and financial information. Scammers and fraudsters take advantage of honest taxpayers through calls to action using phishing emails and other methods seeking this type of information. Criminals are always looking for new opportunities to successfully pull off such schemes, such as the federal government’s upcoming stimulus checks. REMEMBER – the IRS, the Alabama Department of Revenue, and other legitimate government agencies will NOT ask for financial or other personal information through an email, text or phone call.

What might people expect to see? 
The federal government is planning to issue as many stimulus checks via direct deposit as possible and use tax information from 2019 or 2018. Phone calls, text messages, and e-mails phishing for this information could be received by individual citizens, as well as tax preparers.

The messaging could include variations of language such as “in order to receive your/your client’s stimulus payment via direct deposit, we need you to confirm the banking information.” Scammers would then gather that information via telephone or directing victims to click on a link that leads to a website where the victims enter their banking information.

Other things to be on the lookout for: 
The stimulus payments, along with extension due dates and just the general change in behaviors right now, create opportunities for criminals. A few things to be on the lookout for:

  • Increase in phishing schemes from criminals looking to gather information
  • Opportunities for criminals to take advantage of identity theft because the filing extension period may provide an expanded time frame before the real taxpayer files
  • Increase in fraudulent zero balance returns if it’s determined people who don’t normally file need to file a return in order to get the stimulus payment  
  • Possibility of criminals filing returns with a low balance due so that they have a filing record that can be used to allow them access to the stimulus funds (a small balance due is worth it for a larger stimulus payment)

These are just a few examples of how criminals may test the system. Whatever they do this year can also set the stage for more refund fraud in future years if it’s not detected.

For more on Coronavirus-related scams and what you can do to avoid them, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.  

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