Second Government Stimulus Checks: A Windfall for Online Miscreants
That second stimulus check for $600 has really helped……. a lot of thieves!!
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that as of February 3rd, they’ve heard from nearly 341 million people who think they’ve been scammed by online criminals to the tune of more than $321 million!
The IRS reported 4.8 million payments totaling $8.2 billion were made in Michigan for the first round and residents should be on alert for the most common scams currently being used.
Google reported during the first stimulus it was blocking 18 million scam emails every single day, and 150,000 fraudulent stimulus check sites were launched.
With the third stimulus for $1.9 trillion being negotiated in Congress, these thieves are only going to get more devious and experienced at ripping people off. Americans must be on alert and know how to protect themselves right now and going forward.
Here are five FTC tips for avoiding a Coronavirus stimulus payment scam.
Only use www.irs.gov/coronavirus to submit information to the IRS. Never send any info in response to a call, text, or email. Scammers will send you a phishing email, text message, or message on social media claiming that they are the government. They may email you telling you to click on a link to “verify” information, or text message you a link to fill out an application to receive your check. Don’t do it. The government already knows who you are. You filed taxes, right? They have your address and/or banking info.
- 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. They could pretend to be you and get the check for themselves, or even empty your bank account.
- You don’t have to pay to get your stimulus money. That means no special “deposit fees” or “processing fees”. If anybody tells you they sent you too much and need some returned, guess what? Yep. Scammers.
- 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.
- Don’t go to any website that doesn’t end in “.gov”. If you do happen to go to a non-government website, for heaven’s sake don’t click on any links. They could install malware on your computer, and nothing good will happen after that.
Report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint
To keep up with the latest scams, sign up for the FTC's consumer alerts.