Government Scams: IRS Stimulus Payment Scams - US Internal Revenue Service Notice

Fake Government Agencies
IRS Scams - Fake Stimulus Payment
 "Economic Stimulus Payment Online Form"
Email claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service

Have you received an email from the IRS, telling you that "After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a Stimulus Payment"; then  instructing you to "To submit your Stimulus Payment form, please download the document attached to your email"?

It is a scam.  The IRS will never, never email you unless you first contact them.  They WILL NOT EVER email you to tell you you owe money or are due to receive a refund; or for any other reason. Count on it.The IRS specifically says:

"The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail.

  • The IRS does not request detailed personal information through e-mail.
  • The IRS does not send e-mail requesting your PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

If you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site,

  • Do not reply.
  • Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
  • Do not click on any links. If you clicked on links in a suspicious e-mail or phishing Web site and entered confidential information, visit our Identity Theft page."

See this page for the original IRS statement about this scam.

Note the poor syntax and the non-government email address used in the example below.


Sample Scam FBI Email:

January 22, 2009, CFR received the following email:

Sent from: Internal Revenue Service (stimulus@vodafone.net):

Subject: Economic Stimulus Payment Online Form

 

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a Stimulus Payment.

Please submit the Stimulus Payment Online Form in order to process it.

A Stimulus Payment can be delayed for a variety of reasons.

For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.

To submit your Stimulus Payment form, please download the document attached to your email.

Note: If filing or preparation fees were deducted from your 2007 Refund or you received a refund anticipation loan, you will be receiving a check instead of a direct deposit.

Regards,

Internal Revenue Service

Another version of the scam, minor differences:

 After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a Stimulus Payment. Please submit the Stimulus Payment Online Form in order to process it.

A Stimulus Payment can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.

To submit your Stimulus Payment form, please download the attached document.

Note: If filing or preparation fees were deducted from your 2007 Refund or you received a refund anticipation loan, you will be receiving a check instead of a direct deposit.

Regards,
Internal Revenue Service
 


Recommendations:

If you receive a call from this number or any group that claims to represent a government agency, take down their information, including the contact's name, phone number, etc. Do NOT give them any personal or financial information, especially not a credit card, checking or bank account number, passport number, etc.

Next, look up the direct phone or email address for the agency they claim to represent and call them.  Read them the email and ask if it could have come from their agency.

While we don't want to encourage people to ignore correspondence from legal government agencies, it is a safe bet that NO U.S. government agency will make any first contact with you by email. Certainly not the FBI or IRS.

The IRS offers this advice:

If you receive an unsolicited e-mail purporting to be from the IRS, take the following steps:

  • Do not open any attachments to the e-mail, in case they contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
  • Contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine whether the IRS is trying to contact you about a tax refund.

And please let us know about any suspicious calls or emails you receive.  We look for patterns so that we can alert the authorities and victims to new scams, before it is too late!


How to Report a Tax Refund Scam Email:

If you receive a suspicious e-mail that claims to come from the IRS,

  1. Forward it to the IRS (phishing@irs.gov and
  2. Send a copy to ConsumerFraudReporting.org (via the feedback form) You can forward the message as received or provide the Internet header of the e-mail. The Internet header has additional information to help us locate the sender.
  3. Please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at www.ic3.gov and
  4. After you forward the e-mail or header information to us, delete the message.

Tips about how to identify phishing e-mail scams and bogus IRS Web sites:

You may also report misuse of the IRS name, logo, forms or other IRS property to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration toll-free at 1-800-366-4484.

Follow instructions in the link below for sending the bogus e-mail to ensure that it retains critical elements found in the original e-mail. The IRS can use the information, URLs and links in the suspicious e-mails you send to trace the hosting Web site and alert authorities to help shut down the fraudulent sites. Unfortunately, due to the expected volume, the IRS will not be able to acknowledge receipt or respond to you.

In the United States, you may also contact:

U.S. Secret Service
Financial Crimes Division
1800 G Street, NW
Room 942
Washington, DC 20223

Phone: (202) 4355850

Fax: (202) 4355031

Or contact the local U.S. Secret Service Field Office.

Frequently Asked Questions - 1.13 IRS Procedures: Reporting Fraud

How to Report Abusive Tax Promotions and/or Promoters:
Complete the referral form  which documents the information necessary to report an abusive tax avoidance scheme. The form can be mailed or faxed to the IRS address and fax number on the form.

How to Report Abusive CPAs, Attorneys or Enrolled Agents:
Report suspicious actions by tax professionals to the email address  of the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.

 

Overseas

Contact the Foreign Commercial Service (FSC) at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If there is no FCS office, contact the American Citizens Services Unit of the Consular Section or the Regional Security Office.

For a comprehensive list of national and international agencies to report scams, see this page.

 


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