Don’t get conned by scammers cashing in on Americans’ need for fast stimulus payments.
4 Red Flags of a Stimulus Payment Scam
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Americans lost more than $270 million to COVID-19 and stimulus payment fraud in 2020 and through the first week of 2021. In 2020, Americans received direct stimulus payments of $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples and an additional $500 for each child in the household as part of the $2 trillion dollar economic relief package signed into law in March.
Now that a second round of direct stimulus payments of $600 for individuals, $1,200 for married couples and an extra $600 for each child in the household has been approved and released to the public, scammers sniff financial desperation in the air. And they may try to cash in on Americans' need for the newest economic boost, warns the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Many American have already received direct deposit payments or a check in the mail. At the same time, many are still waiting for the much-needed funds and could be targets for stimulus payment scams, according to the BBB.
Click or swipe for four signs of a stimulus payment scam and how to avoid becoming a victim.
1. Phishing emails or text messages
If you receive a text or email instructing you to click a link to “request benefit payments,” don’t fall for the scam. The link may take you to an application that prompts you to enter sensitive, personal information “to make sure you are getting all the payments owed to you,” warns the BBB. However, the “application” is just a means to obtain your personal information in order to commit identity theft.
The federal government won’t ask you to fill out an application for your stimulus payment, so a request to provide personal information is a flapping red flag of a scam.
2. Calls or messages from a purported government agency
Scammers frequently make up names of agencies or grants and may even send you to a look-alike website that seems official. Don’t fall for this scheme. Look up the official government website instead for accurate information. To make sure you find the real government agency site, make sure the website address ends in “gov.”
“If you think the message may be real, find the government agencies’ contact information on the internet and contact them directly,” says the BBB.
Find out: 6 Signs of a COVID-19 Tracing Scam
3. False promises of obtaining a larger payment
There isn’t any way to get your stimulus payment earlier or faster, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If someone tells you they can get your money for you right now, that person is “both lying and a scammer,” says the FTC.
Find out: 6 Red Flags of a COVID-19 Extortion Scam
4. Asking you to pay a fee
Americans who meet income eligibility for the second round of stimulus payments aren’t required to pay fees to receive their direct payment. Never pay anyone who says you must submit payment to receive stimulus funds.
“The government won’t ask you to pay anything upfront to get this money,” says the Federal Trade Commission. “Anyone who does is a scammer.”
This article by Deb Hipp was originally published on Debt.com.
Published by Debt.com, LLC