Beware of scams involving jobs, stimulus checks and tax refunds, IRS warns

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IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on April 7, 2022.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The IRS is warning taxpayers to look out for scams involving fake job offers, tax refunds and pandemic-era benefits like stimulus checks, as criminals continue to use the ongoing health crisis to steal cash and data.

“Scammers continue using the pandemic as a device to scare or confuse potential victims into handing over their hard-earned money or personal information,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a bulletin issued Monday.

Rettig urged Americans to be skeptical of suspicious calls, texts and e-mails promising nonexistent benefits and suggested people should verify information on a trusted government website like IRS.gov.

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The federal government has issued all three authorized rounds of stimulus checks (formally known as Economic Impact Payments), and most eligible people already received their checks, according to the IRS.

But thieves are still using stimulus checks to lure victims and “pose a continuing threat,” the agency said.

People missing a stimulus payment were able to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit for the remainder on their 2020 or 2021 tax return. But they may still be waiting on their refund. As of May 20, the IRS had issued 96 million refunds this filing season.

The easiest way to check the status of a refund is through the “Where’s My Refund?” online tool or by using the IRS2Go app.

“Any text messages, random incoming phone calls or emails inquiring about bank account information, requesting recipients to click a link or verify data should be considered suspicious and deleted without opening,” the IRS said. “This includes not just stimulus payments, but tax refunds and other common issues.”

There have also been fake job offers posted on social media, enticing people to share their personal information, according to the IRS. This creates tax risk because criminals can use the data to file a fraudulent tax return in the victim’s name.

Scammers continue using the pandemic as a device to scare or confuse potential victims into handing over their hard-earned money or personal information.

Chuck Rettig

IRS Commissioner

Job openings in April were near all-time highs amid historic demand for workers.

Scammers also took advantage of mass unemployment during the pandemic by using stolen personal data to file for jobless benefits in others’ names.

Taxpayers who got a 1099-G tax form detailing benefits they didn’t receive should contact their appropriate state agency for a corrected form, the IRS said. The state will issue an amended tax form and update the record with the IRS on your behalf, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Did you get a stimulus check during the pandemic? I’d like to talk to you for a story about how the funds impacted your money habits (e.g., did it change how you look at money? Help you build an emergency fund?) Please reach out to Greg at gregory.iacurci@nbcuni.com if you’d like to share.

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