IRS Warns That Texts Promising $1,200 Stimulus Checks Are a Scam

Rachel DeSantis
·3 min read

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The Internal Revenue Service is warning Americans not to click on any text messages claiming to have information on an economic stimulus check — because it definitely didn’t come from them.

Any messages urging people to disclose their bank account information in the hopes of receiving a $1,200 stimulus check are nothing more than a scam created by thieves, the IRS said in a recent statement.

“Criminals are relentlessly using COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments as cover to try to trick taxpayers out of their money or identities,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “This scam is a new twist on those we’ve been seeing much of this year. We urge people to remain alert to these types of scams.”

The IRS said it will never ask taxpayers for bank account information over text, and will never send unsolicited texts or emails, so any messages claiming to be from them are fake.

The specific text the agency is warning people about reads: “You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment into your account. Continue here to accept this payment …"

Once people click the link in the message, it takes them to a fake phishing web address, which is meant to look like it’s the IRS’ Get My Payment website.

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Get My Payment was set up in the springtime to allow taxpayers to track the status of their stimulus checks using basic information like Social Security number, date of birth and mailing address.

Once users enter their personal and financial account information in the fake site, that information is then collected by scammers.

The IRS is asking anyone who gets the text message to screenshot it and email to phishing@irs.gov, along with the date they received it, the number it came from and their own number.

Single taxpayers in the U.S. received checks up to $1,200 thanks to the $2 trillion CARES Act stimulus package, which passed in March.

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Though the rollout was rocky — checks were supposed to come within three weeks, though some people’s were deposited into bank accounts that did not belong to them — the fate of a second check has been even rockier as Democrats and Republicans have disagreed on the amount and scope of a new aid package.

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this month that he hoped to have an aid deal passed before the end of the year, and CBS News reported he’d likely push a $500 billion plan.

President-elect Joe Biden, meanwhile, would support "additional checks to families should conditions require," his campaign website states.

Axios reported in August that economists on Biden’s advisory committee were possibly looking at a $1 or $2 trillion package for January, but such a plan likely hinges on which party controls the Senate after the Georgia runoff elections.