The IRS has said it has seen a “tremendous increase” in phishing schemes related to the pandemic as well as other forms of fraud aimed at the “economic impact payments,” or stimulus payments, the agency is administering under one of the virus relief laws.
The IRS always has been one of the agencies most commonly targeted in spoofing scams and other forms of fraud seeking but criminals are now additionally using those payments “as cover for schemes to steal personal information and money” it said.
The phishing schemes “are using keywords such as Corona Virus, COVID-19, and Stimulus in varying ways. These schemes are blasted to large numbers of people known by the bad actors in an effort to get personally identifying information or financial account information to include account numbers and passwords. Most of these new schemes are actively playing on the fear and unknown of the virus and the stimulus payments,” it said.
It added that its criminal investigations office also is seeing scams related to fake at-home test kits; fake cures, vaccines, pills and advice on unproven treatments; fraudulent charities and investment opportunities; and medical supplies that are not delivered after payments are made.
The Justice Department IG recently issued a similar warning to agencies about counterfeit personal protective equipment and the SSA and other agencies also have warned against scams related to the payments.