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ADOR warns of scams related to stimulus checks

By J.R. TIDWELL / Editor

With plans by the federal government in place to release stimulus checks to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the Alabama Department of Revenue would like to remind citizens to be mindful of protecting their personal and financial information.

“Scammers and fraudsters take advantage of honest taxpayers through calls to action using phishing emails and other methods seeking this type of information,” said ADOR in a release. “Criminals are always looking for new opportunities to successfully pull off such schemes, such as the federal government’s upcoming stimulus checks.” 

ADOR reminds citizens that the IRS, itself and other legitimate governmental agencies will not ask for personal or financial information through text, email or phone call.

“The federal government is planning to issue as many stimulus checks via direct deposit as possible and use tax information from 2019 or 2018,” said ADOR. “Phone calls, text messages, and e-mails phishing for this information could be received by individual citizens, as well as tax preparers.

 “The messaging could include variations of language such as ‘in order to receive your/your client’s stimulus payment via direct deposit, we need you to confirm the banking information.’ Scammers would then gather that information via telephone or directing victims to click on a link that leads to a website where the victims enter their banking information.”

ADOR warns of the following potential methods scammers might use in order to try and collect personal or financial information from others: 

— “Increase in phishing schemes from criminals looking to gather information

Opportunities for criminals to take advantage of identity theft because the filing extension period may provide an expanded time frame before the real taxpayer files

Increase in fraudulent zero balance returns if it’s determined people who don’t normally file need to file a return in order to get the stimulus payment  

Possibility of criminals filing returns with a low balance due so that they have a filing record that can be used to allow them access to the stimulus funds (a small balance due is worth it for a larger stimulus payment)”  

For more on coronavirus-related scams and what you can do to avoid them, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website at consumer.ftc.gov.