RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — While Congress tries to figure out what to do about the second round of stimulus checks, criminals are using that opportunity to steal your identity.
The IRS is warning people about a fake government stimulus offer being used by scammers to get at your personal information.
With many hurting financially because of the pandemic, the thought of some extra cash from the government is a welcome prospect.
Criminals know the debate over a new stimulus bill is on everybody’s radar, so with government money as an inducement, scammers are flooding cell phones with a text message.
“You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from Covid-19 Treas (SIC) Fund.“
The text also says further action is required to accept this payment into your account. That’s the bait.
You are instructed to click a link to finish accepting your money, but that’s the hook the scammers have set for you.
“Don’t click on unfamiliar links, whether it’s coming from a text message, an email, or a pop-up on your computer,” said Catherine Honeycutt of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina.
“Never click on a suspicious link, especially if they are from an unfamiliar source,” she said.
In this case, the IRS warns the link takes you to a fake IRS website that asks people to enter their personal and financial account information.
The IRS warns the text is part of a phishing scam to get your financial and personal information.
The fake text gives itself away in several ways.
“You can always hover over the links to see what the actual URL is,” Honeycutt said.
Although the link takes you to what appears to be an IRS website hovering over that link shows it’s not an official government site.
The real IRS Website has a secure lock icon and must have dot Gov as part of its address.
There is a also banner with an American flag on the real IRS website saying it’s an official website of the US government but, don’t rely solely on that because that’s easy to copy.
You must make sure the URL has dot Gov, because that IP address cannot be faked.
If you’ve gotten a text like that, you can report it to the IRS by clicking here.