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State warns about COVID-19 stimulus scams

With the federal government preparing to distribute economic stimulus funds to most Americans during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) is warning taxpayers to be wary of potential scams to steal their money.

Phishing scams are among the most common fraud tactics. The goal is to acquire personal information, such as Social Security numbers, to commit identity theft.

“The unfortunate reality is that there will always be criminals trying to take advantage of unsuspecting citizens during a crisis,” Secretary of Revenue Kimberly Lewis Robinson said. “Neither the Louisiana Department of Revenue nor the IRS will contact any taxpayer to ask for personal information, and no government agency will charge a fee of any kind for the delivery of stimulus funds.”

The U.S. Department of the Treasury says on its website, “If you receive calls, emails, or other communications claiming to be from the Treasury Department and offering COVID-19 related grants or stimulus payments in exchange for personal financial information, or an advance fee, or charge of any kind, including the purchase of gift cards, please do not respond. These are scams.”

Louisiana residents who suspect they are victims of identity theft can take steps to protect themselves by reporting the crime to the police, reporting suspected fraud to the three major credit-reporting bureaus, and submitting a Louisiana Identity Theft Affidavit to the LDR Criminal Investigations Division.

For more information, visit online at revenue.louisiana.gov/FraudForms/IdentityTheftChecklist.pdf.