Be Wary of Stimulus Check Scams During Coronavirus Pandemic

April 14, 2020 09:29 AM
 
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As millions of Americans anticipate the arrival of their stimulus payment over the next few weeks, criminals may see this as the perfect opportunity to take advantage. Be vigilant of scams centered around stimulus payments circulating.


What you should know about Economic Stimulus Payments:

  • Payments will be received via direct deposit if that information is available to the IRS based on 2018, or 2019 taxes if already filed. If direct deposit information is not available, a check will be mailed.
  • Earliest possible payments are expected to be received soon. These would be via direct deposit only.
  • Payments received via check will be sent by US Treasury. Checks will look just like items received for social security and tax refund. Check payments are not expected to be sent until after April 24, 2020.

Information from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

  • Don’t respond to texts, emails or calls about checks from the government.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. There are no products proven to treat or prevent COVID-19 at this time.
  • Hang up on robocalls. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from low-priced health insurance to work-at-home schemes.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO. Use sites like coronavirus.gov and usa.gov/coronavirus to get the latest information. And don’t click on links from sources you don’t know.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations. Never donate in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money.

Indicators of Possible Scams:

  • The US Government will not need to access a customer’s computer or online banking for any reason.
  • Consumers will not be directed to send money back to the government or to anyone else for any reason via phone, online or through social media.
  • The IRS will not contact consumers via phone for any reason – this includes to provide direct deposit information or confirm account information. Do not give out any account information!
  • All check payments will be sent from US Treasury via regular US Mail and NOT FedEx. Look out for payments received via package delivery, bitcoin, or other unusual delivery method.
  • Stimulus payments will not be sent from any account other than US Treasury checks.
  • Check amount is based on consumer’s income and number of dependents on a tiered payment scale. Payments should not be received for excessively large dollar amounts, uneven dollar amounts, or amounts with coin value.
  • There is no way for a consumer to speed up getting their money faster or “enhance” their payment amount. Any person or program claiming to assist in this process is involved in scam.

If you see a suspected scam, call the hotline for the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 1-866-720-5721 or email the NCDF at disaster@leo.gov.

 

More resources from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS):

Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payments
What you need to know about payments