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IRS receives record number of complaints as scams related to economic impact payments rise

"Be diligent and protect your information."
IRS scam screenshot.png
Posted at 1:16 PM, Sep 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 16:04:23-04

Scammers are working hard to get your money and personal information.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, the agency received a record number of complaints about Economic Impact payment scams in June and July of 2021. The IRS has not seen scam numbers like this in more than a decade.

ABC Action News spoke with IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Brian Payne. He says scammers are constantly switching up their tactics and the most common scams they are seeing right now come in the form of emails and text messages. Payne explained why he believes they are seeing an increase.

"I think the biggest reason is we are seeing the pandemic continue to move forward - we are a year and a half into the pandemic and the IRS is issuing more economic impact payments. Anytime we see a fusion of money into the system, we are going to see an influx of scammers that are going to try and take advantage of the situation," said Payne.

Taxpayers need to be their own first line of defense and protect themselves.

"The main message that we want to get out is protect your information. If you are receiving emails or text messages or even posts on social media, don’t respond to them," said Payne. "Be diligent and protect your information. You are the first line of defense. As much as we want to be out there and we can try and stop as much as we can – you are the first line of defense. Protect your information and be aware of who you respond to online and who you respond to in text messages and emails."

The IRS reiterated things people should look out for to signal a message may be a scam including grammar mistakes, spelling errors and shortened URLs which often lead to problematic web pages.

"That’s not how we operate – we are not going to send you unsolicited text messages or emails to get your personal information," said Payne.

If you get a message you think is a scam, take a screenshot and send it directly to the IRS so experts can look into it. Click here for more information on how to report.