The coronavirus pandemic has no doubt turned our world upside down. While it seems that life as we know it has changed, one aspect of life hasn’t – the prevalence of scammers.

And as times get harder, victims will become more and more vulnerable to their schemes.

To keep you and your family safe, inform yourself of the top 5 COVID related schemes of 2020:

1.      Charity scams

Fake charities exploit major disasters like the current pandemic. These scammers will usually contact unsuspecting do-gooders by telephone, text, social media, email, or in person. They create fraudulent websites mimicking legitimate charities to trick people into sending money or providing personal financial information.

To ensure that the charities that you choose to donate to are real, ask them to provide their employer identification number (EIN). You can also use the search tool on irs.gov to identify legitimate charities and avoid being scammed.

2.      Social media scams

Scammers are now using social media to find and use information people share about themselves. They may use direct messages or email to convince victims that they are a close friend or family member in need of financial assistance.

3.      The “ghost” preparer

Some tax preparers are careless with the way they use a client’s personal financial information provided to them. This exposes taxpayers to tax fraud and serious filing mistakes that could cost them their refund.

These preparers are considered “ghost” preparers because they will not sign the tax returns they complete. All taxpayers should know that anyone who is paid to prepare or assists in preparing federal tax returns must have a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) and must sign and include the PTIN on all tax returns.

4.      Schemes targeting non-English speakers

A common scam involves the taxpayer’s receiving a phone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS who threatens jail time, deportation, or revocation of a driver’s license. This is especially prevalent now that many are expecting economic impact payments.

Remember that the IRS will only contact taxpayers via postal mail, not telephone calls or email.

5.      Economic impact and refund scams

Just as many honest taxpayers have been eagerly awaiting their economic impact payments, scammers have too. These criminals will file false tax returns or send incorrect information to the IRS to divert refunds and stimulus payments to their addresses or bank accounts.

As we get deeper into this pandemic, more scams are likely to arise. To stay informed, subscribe to our newsletter here!