The Internal Revenue Service has started delivering its second round of stimulus payments. And with that has come scammers trying to take advantage of the situation.
The IRS' Criminal Investigation Division released a statement Tuesday cautioning Minnesota residents to be alert for a potential wave of COVID-19-related scams.
"Criminals will look for any opportunity to take what they are not entitled to and this is no exception," Tamera Cantu, acting special agent in charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division's Chicago office, said in the statement.
According to the IRS, common scams include fake at-home COVID test kits, fake donation requests, text messages asking for bank information in order to receive the economic impact payments and e-mail phishing schemes. Another scam involves bogus investment opportunities, including companies claiming to be developing a COVID-19 vaccine.
The IRS does not contact people through text, e-mail or social media and will not threaten people over the phone with arrest or a lawsuit. Also, the bureau does not need or ask for information about a taxpayer's bank account or debit cards.
The IRS did not have data about the number of scams reported following the first stimulus payment in Minnesota.
Genevieve Billia, a spokesperson for the IRS' Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago, said it is important to do your research and be skeptical when receiving a questionable message.
"If it sounds too good to be true," Billia said, "it probably is."
COVID-related scams can be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud through an online form or by calling 1-866-720-5721. The fraud or theft of stimulus payments can be reported at tips.tigta.gov.
Peter Warren • 612-673-1713