In recent months, more than 136 thousand new domains have been registered that reference the current COVID-19 outbreak, many of which are distributing phishing campaigns with fake bank login forms. As the pandemic continues, cyber criminals will continue to leverage it for new opportunities to target more victims.

With the Treasury Department and IRS announcing the distribution of the upcoming economic impact payments, cyber criminals have established their newest attack topic. They will take this new opportunity to target taxpayers by committing fraud and identity theft. The IRS is urging taxpayers to be on the lookout for scams relating to economic impact payments.

These payments will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. In fact, the only way to know if there is action required by you is to go to the IRS website and look up your information. You will not be contacted by IRS. It is important to DOUBLE CHECK that you are visiting the actual IRS website and not a fake domain that looks similar to the real site. You must be very vigilant during these times to ensure that your personal information is not going into the wrong hands.

Ways to spot economic impact payment scams:
  • Beware of the usage of phrases like “stimulus check” or “stimulus payment.” The official term used by the IRS is economic impact payment.
  • If you are being asked to sign over your economic impact payment in exchange for receiving additional funds, it is a scam.
  • Any requests by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information are scams. The IRS will not contact you asking you to verify financial information to expedite a payment.
  • Beware of all requests from strangers for personal information in order to get an economic impact payment faster.
  • Look out for bogus checks in the mail that ask you to call or verify information online in order to cash it in.
  • Beware of email links directing you to the “IRS website”. They are most like phishing scams directing you to a fake domain designed to look like the real thing.
Here are some proactive measures you can take to help avoid becoming a victim of scams related to your potential economic impact payment:
  • Be wary of any email, text, phone call, or social media request for money or other personal identifiable information in exchange for receiving your payment more quickly.
  • Never send money to someone else in the hope of receiving additional money. The scam artist may call this a deposit, an advance, or a processing fee.
  • Never give your personal or financial information over the phone.
  • Enroll your employees into cyber awareness training on a regular basis. The more they are informed, the better prepared they are to detect and handle new scams.

We know these unprecedented times are stressful but we’ve got your back. If you encounter a phishing scam and you are unsure how to handle it, contact us at (203) 333-4444 and we will help.