How to avoid coronavirus stimulus check scams

The stimulus check program from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) — which has been plagued with issues from the start — now has a new problem: scammers.

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Information division warned that fraudsters are preying on unsuspecting victims to get the money, which is supposed to offset the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some tips to avoid getting tricked:

Keep your information secure

The only portal for sending in such information is through the IRS’ dedicated webpage for the payments, and not through any phone call, text message, or email.

Taxpayers, retirees, beneficiaries, and non-filers are all eligible to receive stimulus checks, but in certain cases, they will need to submit their direct deposit information.

Block unknown callers

The IRS will not try to contact people through phone, text message, email, or social media regarding their stimulus checks, nor ask for details such as Social Security numbers and account numbers.

If an unknown caller asks for this information, it’s a scammer on the other end of the line.

You don’t have to pay to get your stimulus money

The stimulus checks do not require people to pay anything in order to receive them. If there are requests for payments supposedly for the release of stimulus checks, refuse to do so.

Avoid fake checks

Scammers may attempt to use fake checks to victimize people, asking them to deposit the fake stimulus check then send them back money due to an overpayment.

Report scams

People who encounter potential scams are requested to report them to the FTC’s Complaint Assistant. Signing up for the FTC’s consumer alerts is also recommended, as these will provide alerts to warn against the latest scams.

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