What to Know About Stimulus Payment Scams

As a second round of CARES Act stimulus checks makes its way to eligible Americans in the amount of $600 each, scammers have resurfaced to try to snatch them from unsuspecting and innocent citizens. There are few things to be aware of to ensure you don’t fall victim to these unscrupulous swindlers.

The IRS is Not Contacting You About Your Funds
First and foremost, the government does not reach you to ask for your financial information. It’s stated right on the IRS.gov website under Consumer Alerts:

“The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.”

They’ve even tweeted about it on their verified Twitter account with the hashtag “#COVIDReliefIRS.”

In fact, taxpayers who are eligible for the stimulus money don’t have to do anything to receive it. And yet, the Better Business Bureau has received reports of scammers contacting people by email, text or phone urging them to click a live link or provide banking or personal information to get their payments. Remember, you don’t need to provide any information to get your funds. So, refrain from clicking links or providing private information to coercing callers. You can, however, report these attempts to the FTC by visiting www.reportfraud.ftc.gov.

Quicker Cash is Not a Thing
Another strategy by scammers is to encourage anxious Americans to take action to receive their money faster. This is also misleading and untrue. In this scenario, the unsuspecting person is told to pay a fee via prepaid debit card or provide bank account info or social security numbers to get their funds released immediately. Surrendering this information could lead to unauthorized transactions or raiding of your bank accounts. Again, the IRS will not text, call or email you regarding the stimulus. They will instead reach out by mail. And there is nothing you can do to expedite your funds (or the US mail for that matter.)

Never Go Online to Get Your Money
Offenders have gotten more sophisticated in their scam attempts. Once such effort is the creation of an unauthorized website that fraudulently portrays itself as a government site, purportedly for the purpose of allowing people to check on or retrieve their stimulus payment. Again, scammers are hoping victims will enter banking and personal information so they may steal money or identity information. Beware of any website that is not an authorized, verified, and secure government site. The only website you should visit to check the status of your stimulus payment is https://www.irs.gov/coronovirus/get-my-payment.

As the government continues to navigate the coronavirus through relief efforts and in particular, the CARES Act, there could be more stimulus payments on the horizon. If so, keep these points in mind to ensure your money reaches you and not someone seeking to take your funds, steal personal information or gain access to your bank account.

NMLS #718145

published on 01/14/2021