• Office of the Comptroller

IRS warns of COVID-19 text scam

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning of an ongoing scam in which targets receive a text message saying they have "received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment… Continue here to accept this payment …" The text includes a link to a phishing site.

Although this link appears to come from a state agency or relief organization, it takes recipients to a fake website that looks like the IRS.gov "Get My Payment" website. Any personal and financial account information submitted to this site allows scammers to collect it and use it to steal identities and funds.

The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails. The agency will never demand immediate payment using a gift card, prepaid debit card or wire transfer, or threaten to have a taxpayer arrested.

Anyone who receives this scam text should take a screenshot and notify their IT staff with:

  • Date/time/time zone that they received the text message.

  • The phone number that received the text message.

IT staff aware of someone receiving this text on state equipment should notify the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. Executive departments should notify commonhelp.desk@mass.gov, and all other state agencies should contact the Office of the Comptroller at CTREmergencyNotification@mass.gov.

All staff should be on high alert that scams are increasing at this time of year and text scams are increasing. Children and family members are also targeted, so talk to your family members to not respond to any text messages unless from a legitimate source.

If your staff gets one of these suspicious emails, in addition to your incident response notification protocols, please contact CTREmergencyNotification@mass.gov with any incidents or suspected incidents of fraud or cyber attacks, to ensure that CTR can act to protect enterprise systems, notify authorities and assist with mitigation strategies and continued operations. Visit the CTR Cyber Center for additional resources and links for Cybersecurity Tips and Alerts.

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