Financial Planning | Taxation

It’s open season on economic recovery scams

Punch Few things tick me off more than people who steal.

Theft in any form -- of money, property, words, identity, dignity -- angers me. I don't even have a sense of humor about it. I work hard for these things. What gives you the right to just take them?

So whenever I see news of the feds trying to lock up the scammer du jour, I cheer 'em on. My only question is, can I help?

It's no surprise that today's newest scams center on the economic recovery.

The IRS's latest warning includes words of caution about a scam that targets the "Making Work Pay" tax credit that's included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Here's what the IRS has to say:

"This phishing e-mail ... says there is a refundable credit available to workers, consumers and retirees that can be paid into the recipient’s bank account if the recipient registers their account information with the IRS. The e-mail contains links to register the account and to claim the tax refund.

"In reality, most taxpayers receive their Making Work Pay tax credit, which was designed for wage earners, in their paychecks as a result of decreased tax withholding, not as a lump sum distribution from a federal fund. Additionally, consumers and retirees who are not wage earners are not eligible for this tax credit."

Keep this in mind when confronted with a possible scam: The IRS will never contact you via unsolicited e-mail or ask for personal or financial information via e-mail.

Walter Updegrave, Money Magazine's senior editor, offers a few other tips for how to spot and avoid a stimulus scam.

What's your favorite scam-related story?


Bill Sheridan