J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), is urging all taxpayers to stay alert to ensure that they do not lose their Economic Impact Payments (EIPs), also called stimulus checks, to thieves and scammers.  

TIGTA is responsible for conducting statutory oversight of issues relating to federal tax administration. As such, it regularly investigates fraudulent activity related to financial distributions of funds, including stimulus checks.

Depending on your circumstances, you will receive your stimulus payment by direct deposit, Direct Express debit card, or by paper check. With so many payments being distributed in various forms across the country, TIGTA reminds taxpayers to exercise caution to avoid becoming victimized by thieves and scammers.

You can check the status of your check with the “Get My Payment” tool on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website. Do not use any other websites or service that claim to be able to process your check or act as an intermediary between you and the IRS. If in doubt about whether a link can be trusted, the best practice is to manually type “IRS.gov” into your web browser.

Don’t open attachments or click on any links within e-mails from senders you do not recognize even if they claim that you must do so to collect your payment (that’s not true). Do not provide your username, password, date of birth, Social Security Number, financial data, or other personal information in response to an e-mail or robocall.

Additionally, don’t share personal information with anyone, whether claiming to be from the IRS or another business or agency offering to assist you with your stimulus check. That includes your online banking username or password. The IRS does not need your online banking username and password to send your check.

Payments will come directly from Treasury, and not any other agency. Scammers may try to convince you to deposit fraudulent checks in your name or in others’ names into your bank account. Once you deposit the funds, the scammers may request that you send money to another account, or use the funds to purchase pre-paid cards. Don’t fall for the tricks, and do not accept or deposit any stimulus payment that someone else offers you other than one received directly from the Treasury through the U.S. mail.

After your payment has been sent, the IRS will send you a letter confirming your payment. If you receive this letter but have not received your payment, please report the missing payment to TIGTA. The TIGTA form is intended for reports relating to stolen payments; you will also need to report the missing payment separately to the IRS. Please do not use the TIGTA form for issues related to direct deposits which were not routed correctly, or were not the correct amount.

You can contact TIGTA to report any potential fraud or scams involving the IRS on our website at TIPS.TIGTA.gov. You can also call TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484. Additionally, you can forward any unsolicited e-mail claiming to be from the IRS to phishing@irs.gov (and then delete it).

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Kelly Erb is a tax attorney, tax writer and podcaster.

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