Do you remember a few weeks ago I instructed you how to fill out the IRS Stimulus Payment application? Well, now I need to caution you about a scam that is out there preying on people just like you involving that payment!

Now fake emails and letters – supposedly from the IRS themselves – are appearing in the mail and email boxes of people who submitted applications for the Stimulus Payments, telling you that you're not getting your check, or that if you want it faster, you'll have to supply them with a credit card or bank account number. DO NOT FALL FOR THIS!!! IT IS A SCAM !!!

It IS true that you will get your check faster if the IRS deposits your check directly into your checking account, but there was a box for you to check and bank information for you to have filled out on your application if you wanted this done. Now it is too late, so do NOT fall for this scam if you get a letter or email that says this. IT IS NOT FROM THE IRS !!!

When/if you respond to a letter or email asking you for that banking information, what you're really doing is giving those numbers to a thief who will wipe out your accounts and steal your identity!

One person to whom this happened received an email from do-not-reply@irs.gov. When they replied to the link and went to the second page where they were asked for an ATM PIN number and a credit card, they realized that the IRS wouldn't do that.

If this happens to you – if you receive ANY suspicious emails supposedly from the IRS regarding your Stimulus Payment – immediately forward them to: phishing@irs.gov.

The IRS uses these emails to track the scammers and shut down the host sites of these operations, but the scams are growing and these people are perfecting their techniques, so beware, because you can be very easily fooled!

Some of the fake letters state that there was a problem with your Stimulus Payment and to contact them. Now, there are a few ways you won't get a payment check. For instance, if you are behind in your child support or student loan payments, or if you owe back taxes to the IRS. However, if this is the case, you will receive an explanation letter from the IRS of how your benefit was figured, which comes in a mailing about a week or two after your check was scheduled to arrive. The scammers will NOT do this. Their letters are general letters; they are not specific like this.

Now, here is the most important part about the letters/emails from the scammers. They will have subtle signs that it's not official correspondence from the IRS. You MUST look VERY carefully to notice these. Misspellings and grammar errors are the telltale signs of a scam.

For example, one person received an email that told him he must respond by "May 01th, 2008" (instead of May 10th, 2008). So be very, very careful if/when you read any of these letters or emails – read every single letter and number in them.