With increased stress and anxiety comes an increase in scams. It’s unfortunate, but scammers know that when individuals are vulnerable they often react in more emotional ways and don’t always stop and think before responding.
One area of particular concern right now is the tax rebate authorized through the recently enacted CARES Act. Eligible individuals will receive income tax rebates for 2020 equal to $1,200 for single filers, $2,400 for married filers and $500 for each eligible child. The rebates are subject to income limitations and higher income taxpayers may not receive them. To learn more about the rebates, if you qualify and other CARES Act-related articles, refer to the COVID-19 Resources tab on our website.
First some details on how the rebates work.
No action is required on your part to get this rebate. If you used electronic banking on a prior tax return, the funds will go directly into your bank account. If not, a paper check will be mailed to you. The government expects to start processing the rebates within a few weeks. The paper checks will take much longer, perhaps several months. Again, you do not need to do anything to get this rebate.
The IRS will not call, text or email you about your rebate. In fact, they never initiate contact without first mailing something to you and will very rarely call. The IRS does not use email or texts to communicate with the public. If you receive a call, email or text about your rebate, it is a scam. In an effort to reduce fraud, the IRS will send you a confirmation of the amount of your rebate through regular mail, delivered by the United States Postal Service, within 15 days after your rebate has been processed. No action will be required if your rebate was received. Again, you will not receive a phone call or email from the IRS.
Do not ever give out your PayPal account, social security number, bank account number or any other personal identifying information. Scammers often use bullying or a sense of urgency to get you to act before thinking. Always pause. Here are some great tips from the IRS on how to know if they are reaching out to you.
Seniors tend to be the most vulnerable group to scams, particularly in these turbulent times. If you have friends or relatives who don’t have ready access to online resources, please share this and other relevant information with them.
Now more than ever it is important to stay vigilant and alert. Don’t click on links you don’t know. Make sure you go directly to the website of government agencies, not links provided in emails. Don’t give out your personal information.
If you are contacted by the IRS and believe it may be legitimate, contact us. We can help you assess whether you need to respond.
By being more diligent you might save yourself a lot of heartache and financial loss.