It’s no secret that identity thieves are working hard to steal our private information and money. When they tailor phishing messages to current events, it can be even more difficult to spot these scams.
The Federal Trade Commission warns that the latest phishing email making the rounds appears to come from the IRS: “It says that you can get a third Economic Impact Payment (EIP) if you click a link that lets you ‘access the form for your additional information’ and ‘get help’ with the application.”
The FTC calls this kind of fraud a “government impersonator scam,” which—at first glance—can seem legitimate. And, as with similar email phishing scams, clicking on the link can cause a world of problems, like taking you to a fake site designed to steal your identity and install malware on your device.
So, what can be done to prevent falling victim to this scam? The FTC has three tips:
- Know that the government will never call, text, email, or contact you on social media saying you owe money, or to offer help getting a third Economic Impact Payment (EIP). If you get a message with a link from someone claiming to be from the IRS or another government agency, don’t click on it. It’s a scam. Scammers will often send fake links to websites or use bogus email addresses and phone numbers that seem to be from the government. Your best bet is to visit the IRS’s website directly for trustworthy information on EIP payments.
- Say no to anyone who contacts you, claiming to be from a government agency and asking for personal or financial information, or for payment in cash, gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. Whether they contact you by phone, text, email, on social media, or show up in person, don’t share your Social Security, Medicare ID, driver’s license, bank account, or credit card numbers. And know that the government would never ask you to pay to get financial help.
- Report government impersonators to ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Your report makes a difference. Reports like yours help us investigate, bring law enforcement cases, and alert people about what frauds to be on the lookout for so they can protect themselves, their friends, and family.
Scammers aren’t content to just impersonate the IRS; they regularly pose as all government agencies and popular retail brands to trick you into clicking links or responding with private information. So, it’s a good idea to be suspicious of any unsolicited email containing a link or info request.
The FTC closed the post with links to more information about this and other phishing scams: