Scammers capitalize on confusion to profit. Between the isolation for many people, the scary news, the prospect of stimulus money coming in, and the added layer of the 2020 Censustakers contacting people, the scammers have plenty of ways to break through normal defenses, generate confusion and steal from you.
A remarkably effective trick is to contact someone and tell them they have to qualify for the stimulus, or set up a fake website to lure in unsuspecting victims. You do not have to qualify. Anyone who has filed taxes or been eligible for Social Security in the last two years is already in the system to get paid. Advise your loved ones, especially senior citizens, that they do not have to qualify for this money and to not enter their personal information into any website.
With stimulus checks coming to every American, there is a lot of incentive to find ways to part you from your money. Here are a few things to look out for and protect your stimulus payments from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is responsible for prosecuting scammers and business fraud.
Avoiding Coronavirus stimulus payment scams
Scammers are using these stimulus payments to try to rip people off. They might try to get you to pay a fee to get your stimulus payment. Or they might try to convince you to give them your Social Security number, bank account, or government benefits debit card account number.
4 tips for avoiding a Coronavirus stimulus payment scam
- Only use irs.gov/coronavirus to submit information to the IRS – and never in response to a call, text, or email.
- The IRS won’t contact you by phone, email, text message, or social media with information about your stimulus payment, or to ask you for your Social Security number, bank account, or government benefits debit card account number. Anyone who does is a scammer phishing for your information.
- You don’t have to pay to get your stimulus money.
- The IRS won’t tell you to deposit your stimulus check then send them money back because they paid you more than they owed you. That’s a fake check scam.
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.