COVID scams increase in St. Louis as second stimulus checks arrive

Contact 2

ST. LOUIS- St. Louis is seeing a wave of COVID scams as the second stimulus payments roll out across the country.

David Talcott, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the St. Louis Field Office for the IRS, says these scammers are contacting people largely through phishing for your personal information.

Talcott says they are using methods like email, text, social media, and phone calls to contact people. He says the IRS would never initiate contact in this manner. He said this should be a red flag

Some common COVID-19 scams include:

  • Text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.
  • Phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with key words such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in varying ways. These communications are blasted to large numbers of people and aim to access personally identifying information and financial account information (including account numbers and passwords).
  • The organized and unofficial sale of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits (as well as offers to sell fake cures, vaccines, pills, and professional medical advice regarding unproven COVID-19 treatments).
  • Fake donation requests for individuals, groups and areas heavily affected by the disease.
  • Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result.

Talcott says scammers and criminals will use any crisis moment to take advantage of people and the pandemic is no exception. If you do receive a phishing email or text, you can report it on the IRS website.

He says the IRS doesn’t need your bank account information to get the economic stimulus payments out. The payments are automatically sent out.

He said for those people that are still waiting for their payments, the IRS is asking them to be patient. You can check on your payment with the Get My Payment tool on the IRS website.

The IRS says it is continuing to take steps to get the payments to eligible taxpayers. In addition to redirecting payments to the proper account in recent days to a larger group of people (see below), the IRS and tax industry partners worked over the weekend to help a smaller set of impacted taxpayers.

  • Reissuance of Certain Economic Impact Payments – Following extensive work and discussions with our industry partners, the IRS will reissue payments for taxpayers who did not receive the second Economic Impact Payment because the temporary bank accounts identified in our records were closed.
     
  • Taxpayers Impacted – This impacts some taxpayers when tax preparation providers were unable to deliver funds to people as a result of IRS guidance, and they are now waiting for the IRS to re-process payments related to these accounts.
     
  • Payment Directly from the Government to be Received Soon – Payments will be issued directly from the government later this month (our industry partners are not in possession of these funds), within weeks of the law being enacted.  For people in this group, payments may be issued either as a paper check or as a direct deposit.
     
  • No Action Required by Taxpayers to Receive these Payments – Taxpayers do not need to take any action or call; the payments will be made automatically.

Contact 2 has resolved consumer complaints totaling millions of dollars over the years. Those cases have not only brought peace of mind to the consumers who asked Contact 2 for help, but also shed light on allegations of deception and wrongdoing levied against businesses, contractors and government agencies.

Our team focuses on gathering the facts about what happened. The process involves seeking out both sides of the story. It’s not always what consumers want to hear, but we have an obligation to be fair to the entity accused of causing the problem. Working to clearly understand the details is an important part of the job. Sometimes these cases can be resolved quickly. Other times, Contact 2 will spend weeks or months getting to the bottom of the problem. We appreciate the patience of those who’ve asked us to help them.

While dealing with the complaints of individual consumers is a big part of the job for Contact 2, we’re also dedicated to informing consumers of the latest scams, rip-offs and fraud schemes. Technology has made it easier than ever for criminals to target consumers. Contact 2 monitors reports of this activity around the world to help arm the public with tools to protect their personal information and hard- earned money. We share that information with consumers on-air and online.

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