With the latest round of stimulus checks and payments being sent out, the scammers are at it again. Here are some common stimulus payment scams and what you need to know about them to keep your personal information and money safe.
Don’t answer unfamiliar calls or emails.
Technology makes it incredibly easy for scammers to imitate anyone, including government agencies such as the Treasury Department, IRS, state unemployment agencies, or even Clearwater Credit Union or other banks. Don’t answer calls from unfamiliar numbers and don’t trust caller ID, especially those claiming to be one of these organizations. Remember: government agencies don’t call you and threaten you with demands for or promises of money. Scammers do.
Don’t share personal information.
A common stimulus payment scam uses texts, emails, or social media posts with a link that takes you to a fake application. Fraudulent pages like this allow scammers to collect your personal information, such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, or bank account information. They can even prompt you to install fake apps on your phone and install malware on your device. Remember: the IRS will never ask for personal bank account information.
You can’t pay to get your stimulus check early.
Another common stimulus scam involves scammers offering the option to receive your stimulus payment early by paying a “processing fee”. There is no way to get your stimulus payment early and no one has to pay money to get their payment, period.
Be alert for fake checks.
Similar to other fraudulent check scams, this scam involves receiving a fake or look-a-like stimulus payment check in the mail. After you deposit the check in your account, you will be contacted by the scammers claiming the check amount was incorrect and to send them the balance of the overpaid funds, usually via wire transfer or money order. Then, when the check is processed and found to be fake, you will lose the amount of the check as well as the funds sent to the scammers.
For current information on the Second Economic Impact Stimulus Payment visit the IRS website or read the IRS Press Release regarding the second round of stimulus payments.
Report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
To keep up with the latest scams, sign up for the FTC’s consumer alerts.