The government will not text you to exchange information for stimulus money

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Government agencies will not send unsolicited text messages about COVID-19 stimulus payments or anything else that asks for personal information or money.

Due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has issued three rounds of stimulus payments to Americans since early 2020.

A viewer sent VERIFY a screenshot of a text message that read, “We are happy to inform you that your information has been collected at random for the COVID-19 stimulus payment.” But to get this payment, the text asked the viewer to “please follow the link to fill out the form”. The shortened URL led the viewer to a “.wixsite.com” link with grammatical errors on the website.

The viewer asked VERIFY to confirm if it was legit or not.

THE QUESTION

Is the US government texting randomly selected people about COVID-19 stimulus payments?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

No, the U.S. government is not sending anyone unsolicited text messages regarding COVID-19 stimulus payments. These text messages are scams that the IRS says are on the rise.

WHAT WE FOUND

The IRS said in an August 30 press release, it received a record number of COVID-19 stimulus payment scam reports in June and July 2021. The IRS website shows an example of such a scam, sent via SMS and urging the recipient to complete a form on an included link.

The IRS says it doesn’t send unsolicited text messages or emails. It will not threaten individuals with jail time or legal action, and it will not require payment of taxes on gift cards or via cryptocurrency.

“Taxpayers should be on the lookout for grammar, capitalization and spelling errors in e-mails and texts, which serve as indicators of fraud,” warns the IRS. “Taxpayers should also be careful when clicking on shortened URLs, which can lead to fraudulent web pages. “

No government agency will call, text, or email people asking for money or personal information, the FTC says on a website about scams by government impersonators. The FTC is also warning people not to trust their caller ID as it can be spoofed and never click on links in unexpected emails or text messages.

According to the FTC, scams sometimes use fake agency names or fake officials, making them easy to spot after a quick Google search. It’s also good to keep in mind that all government websites have URLs ending in “.gov” in case you accidentally click on an unknown link.

COVID-19 stimulus payment scams have been on the FTC radar since April 2020. The FTC then reminded people that if a person needed to update any information to receive their checks, they should do so directly through the IRS website.

The IRS says people can report COVID-19 stimulus scams by forwarding messages to [email protected] A taxpayer who has been the victim of a scam used to steal their COVID-19 stimulus payment can report it online to the Inspector General of the Treasury for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at ADVICE.TIGTA.GOV.

More from VERIFY: Yes, the weekly federal unemployment benefit of $ 300 has ended

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