Scam artists have always looked for inventive ways to separate you from your money. But with the announcement that economic stimulus payments will go out in May, these crooks have shifted into overdrive. Their tools are the phone and the Internet, and their target is you.
Complaints are already surfacing of calls from people posing as employees of the IRS or Social Security Administration. They offer to "directly deposit" your tax refund. But in order to do so, they need some personal information, such as your bank account number or social security number. The result is, instead of the tax refund money going into your account, your savings are removed by the crooks.
Some of these scammers are very aggressive. A woman in Texas told the authorities of a man posing as an IRS agent who called her eight times! There are also reports of people receiving emails supposedly from the IRS instructing them to click on a link where they are to insert personal information. Some emails look like they come directly from the FBI. It does not matter how official these emails look, they are all fake.
Government agencies will NEVER request personal information over the phone or in an email. In order to get your special stimulus rebate, there is no special paperwork to fill out and no phone calls required. All most people have to do is to file their 2007 income tax return.
If you want more information about the tax rebate, go to the official IRS website. If you think you have been contacted by a scammer, the IRS has a special article explaining some of these scams and how to report them.