Coronavirus relief efforts create rich environment for fraud

Between economic impact payments, small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, emergency sick and leave requirements, and other coronavirus-related relief efforts, we are in a target-rich environment for fraud.

Everything is moving very quickly, and individuals and business owners desperately need financial relief being offered by the government, banks, and employers. Fraudsters will take advantage of people being distracted by so much going on, but we want to take a moment to stress the importance of remaining vigilant in protecting yourself and your family from scam artists.

The IRS recently issued a warning about a surge of calls and email phishing attempts about COVID-19. Be very cautious about emails, text messages, websites and social media attempts that request money or personal information. 

Some of the more common tactics include:

  • Correspondence that emphasizes the words “stimulus check” or “stimulus payment.” The official term is “economic impact payment;”
  • Request by phone, text, email or social media message for verification of personal and/or business information, saying this is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact (“stimulus”) payment.or their small business loan application.
  • Suggest they can get the taxpayer’s financial relief faster by working on the taxpayer’s behalf.
  • Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, and then telling the taxpayer to call a number or verify the information online in order to cash it.

The same techniques can be used on business owners who are applying for a small business loan under the Paycheck Protection Program through the CARES Act.

Remember:

  • Do not open any attachments or click on links in emails that you were not expecting.
  • If you receive a questionable email, double-check the sender’s address. Many can appear to come from legitimate sources, but closer inspection of the email address will reveal it is fraudulent.

If a member of your staff receives an email request that appears to come from a member of management, your attorney’s office, your CPA, your lender, your financial advisor, instruct them to verify directly with that source that it is a legitimate request.


This communication is intended to provide general information on legislative COVID-19 relief measures as of the date of this communication and may reference information from reputable sources. Although our firm has made every reasonable effort to ensure that the information provided is accurate, we make no warranties, expressed or implied, on the information provided. As legislative efforts are still ongoing, we expect that there may be additional guidance and clarification from regulators that may modify some of the provisions in this communication. Some of those modifications may be significant. As such, be aware that this is not a comprehensive analysis of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide specific recommendations to you or your business with respect to the matters addressed.