As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed on March 27, the federal government is sending out $290 billion in stimulus checks. Unfortunately, scammers are doing all they can to get their hands on them.
Here is a guide to help you keep your check safe from scammers:
Important information about the stimulus checks
You do not need to take any action to receive your stimulus check. There is no number to call and no information that must be shared. Eligible individuals should receive the check without having to take any action.
The federal government is using the most recent tax filing information they have from each eligible individual to send out the checks. Social Security recipients and anyone else who is not required to file taxes do not need to take action either.
The only exception to the above rule applies to those who have still not filed taxes for 2018. These individuals may need to submit a simple tax return to receive their check.
How the scams play out
The scammers trying to nab stimulus checks count on victims thinking they need to take action to get their checks. They use a variety of means, including phone calls, emails, text messages, and social media posts, to ask victims to share information that will enable them to send the stimulus check. They may ask for the victim’s Social Security number, date of birth, PayPal account information, checking account details, home address, or other personal information. They claim it is a necessary to “sign up” for stimulus check distribution, but once they have this information they will reach out to the IRS to change it. The check then goes directly into their own accounts or they hack your account and withdraw the stimulus money as soon as it arrives.
If you receive any phone calls or messages asking for your personal information so you can receive your check, you are looking at a scam. Do not respond. Report the scam to the FTC at ftc.gov. The federal government has made it clear that it will not be reaching out to citizens asking for information before sending out the checks.