~ from the City of Knoxville
With the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) preparing for the distribution of the COVID-19 economic impact payments, it is anticipated that criminals will attempt to use that to exploit, scam and de-fraud citizens. The Knoxville Police Department is providing the following reminders for citizens to recognize these potential scams and avoid falling victim.

– The vast majority of people do not need to take any action to receive their economic impact payments. The IRS will calculate and automatically distribute payments to those eligible. Taxpayers are urged to visit IRS.gov to protect against scams, particularly www.irs.gov/coronavirus for any questions related to economic impact payments.

– The IRS will not call, text, email or contact you on social media asking for personal or bank account information. Do not give out your bank account, debit account or PayPal account information to unverified sources. That is not necessary to receive your payment and it a scam.

– If you receive an email, text or call claiming to be the IRS requesting updated bank account and routing information, do not share those details. That is a scam.

– If you receive a call, do not engage scammers or thieves and hang up, even if you recognize that it is a scam.

– If you receive text messages or emails claiming that you can get your money faster or that you have to “sign-up” for your relief check by providing your personal information or clicking on a link, delete them and do not click on any links. There is nothing to sign up for and no one has early access to this money. These are scams.

– If you receive a “check” in the mail now, it is a fraud. If you receive a check for an odd amount, especially one with cents, or one that requires you to verify the check online or by calling a number, it is a fraud.

– Fraudsters may reference your stimulus check amount and urge you to pay “an outstanding IRS debt”. For those who receive an actual check, fraudsters may ask you to endorse it and forward to them for payment for past debts. Do not comply.

– Remember that scammers change tactics often, and typically sound convincing and threatening when questioning you. Variations of IRS impersonation scams occur year-round, but peak when scammers find opportunities to strike. Be aware that these scams could take numerous forms.

– Recognize a scam before falling victim by always verifying the source. If something seems too good to be true or suspicious, it probably is.

– If you come across a scammer trying to take your check, it should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.