Scammers are Sending Texts About Fake Stimulus Checks, IRS Warns

Blonde woman holding a phone with shiny pink case

In December, millions of people got texts saying they just received a $1,200 payment from the government. While Congress did pass a new stimulus bill, and Americans should expect to receive $600 stimulus payments, these texts are fraudulent. According to the IRS, this is just the latest attempt from scammers to steal money and information during the pandemic.

Second Stimulus Check Text Scam

The scam texts typically say you “received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment… Continue here to accept this payment …”

The text will prompt you to follow a link to a site that will look like the IRS website but is in fact a phishing site. The IRS warns that if you were to follow the instructions sent in the text, scammers would collect your financial information.

“Criminals are relentlessly using COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments as cover to try to trick taxpayers out of their money or identities,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement. “This scam is a new twist on those we’ve been seeing much of this year. We urge people to remain alert to these types of scams.”

If you’ve already gotten a text like this, beware that it is definitely a scam. There is a second stimulus check coming, but it is for $600, not $1,200. Many of these messages were sent before Congress even passed the relief bill anyway.

Plus, like most financial institutions, the IRS will not send you unsolicited text messages, ever. You should immediately screenshot the text and send it to [email protected] with your number and the date and time of the text.

This is not the first coronavirus related scam that’s popped up and it’s not likely to be the last either. In general, remember to never follow links from sources you don’t trust. Avoid unfamiliar phone numbers or email addresses, and never provide personal or financial information to anyone you don’t know.

A good way to protect yourself? Take this handy quiz that can teach you about common scamming practices. Knowing how people may try and steal your info can help you spot it and avoid it.