Senators Call on IRS to Beef Up Fraud Prevention Efforts

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Scammers are not taking days off during the pandemic, senators warn.

Scammers gonna scam, and senators want the IRS to make good on important recommendations from a government watchdog to ensure billions of dollars of stimulus payments go to the Americans they were intended to.

On Friday, Sens. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Tom Carper, D-Del., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., urged the IRS in a letter to immediately enact recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office in a 2018 audit on its taxpayer authentication efforts. The senators warn the IRS has not yet enacted 11 recommendations GAO made “to reduce identity theft and fraud,” including prioritizing authentication efforts and developing a process to evaluate potential authentication technologies.

The letter follows media reports suggesting the stimulus funding is attracting countless scammers who target Americans pretending to be the IRS in attempts to glean enough personal information to steal their refunds or stimulus payments.

“Acknowledging the extraordinary demands placed upon the IRS at this time, we urge you to ensure the implementation of the recommendations in [the GAO report] as soon as possible,” the senators said in the letter.

The letter further recommends the IRS develop fraud prevention strategies for the IRS’ Enter Payment Info and Get My Payment online tools developed specifically to distribute stimulus funding. According to the letter, IRS should engage with the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission to educate Americans about stimulus-specific fraud efforts.

The letter comes following a warning the IRS issued in early April warning Americans about “a surge of calls and email phishing attempts about the coronavirus.” It’s only one of several coronavirus-related fraud efforts the government has issued warnings about.