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As the country responds to COVID-19 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), please be aware that cybercriminals are using this emergency as a “phishing lure” to infiltrate computer systems.

As publicity around the virus increases, the IRS expects to see an increase in scams related to COVID-19. Cybercriminals are using trusted brands, e.g., the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to both feign credibility and entice users into opening illicit attachments. As more people are working from home, the risk from this type of fraud is heightened. If you believe you have been affected, please visit the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center. To receive safe, verified updates from DOR, you can also sign up for the DOR mailing list. 

An example of a fraudulent message sent to both taxpayers and preparers might read:

“In order to receive your/your client’s stimulus payment via direct deposit, we need you to confirm the banking information.”

Phishers are also gathering personal banking information via telephone or directing victims to click on a link that takes them to a website where they are asked to enter their banking information. Please be aware that the IRS will not call, text, or email you to verify your banking information for stimulus payments. The stimulus check process is automatic for any American who qualifies.

What can you do to prevent phishing?

  • Don’t click on any COVID-19 related links or attachments you receive via email or messaging apps.
  • Don’t be fooled by legitimate-looking branding on messages you receive. There are good fakes making the rounds. Cybercriminals will also often use language that conveys a sense of authenticity and urgency.
  • Navigate directly to the WHO and CDC websites for COVID-19 news. Use best practices by:
    • Typing URLs into your web browser and using Google Search to search for legitimate sites. 
  • Stephanie Helm, Director of the MassCyberCenter, offers some advice on cybersecurity for cities and towns that are temporarily transitioning to working remotely.
  • Don’t put your personal or banking information into third-party sites unless you’re 100% sure you’re on the correct site.

DOR will continue to monitor information from the IRS and others to provide you with updates. The Federal Trade Commission’s Checks from the government is a great resource to learn more about stimulus payments. Keep informed with all of DOR’s coronavirus updates by visiting Important COVID-19 Coronavirus Response Update from DOR.

Additional Resources

COVID-19 Consumer Warnings and Safety Tips (FCC)

Consumer Help Center (FCC)

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