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Coronavirus Scammers Are After Your Stimulus Check
Scammers and cybercriminals love to exploit the headlines. COVID-19 isn’t the only pandemic affecting Americans – so are the scams that go along with it.
Case in point: stimulus checks that will help Americans weather the COVID-19 pandemic are already being targeted by scammers, who take advantage of the confusion and disinformation surrounding the rollout of the relief funds. They know how easy it is to profit from crisis.
The IRS set up an Economic Impact Payment website to enable Americans to claim and track their stimulus checks, and will mail or directly deposit the payments. Unfortunately, scammers have quickly designed more than 4,000 similar websites to try to skim payments from unsuspecting citizens.
IRS Stimulus Check Scams (Economic Impact Payments)
- Some coronavirus scammers may be after the payments themselves, while others are using the opportunity to get valuable personal information, like bank account numbers
- There has been a 6,000% increase in spam emails related to COVID-19 since early March, with many of these emails aimed at stealing the IRS checks.
- 4,000 new websites related to the stimulus checks created since January. The websites are set up to either look like the IRS or banks, with hackers trying to trick individuals into disclosing their financial information.
How to Protect Your Economic Impact Payment Stimulus Check
- Be extra wary of all stimulus-related emails, calls, and texts. The IRS will never contact you by phone, email, text message, or social media. Only use irs.gov/coronavirus to submit information to the IRS – and never in response to a call, text, or email.
- Check the language. Stimulus payments aren’t actually called “stimulus checks,”— official term is “economic impact payment.” So if you get an email, call or text using the unofficial language of “stimulus check,” it’s a tip-off that the message isn’t legit
- Watch for your receipt. Whether you receive your payment via direct deposit or as a paper check through snail mail, the IRS will also send you a letter in the mail 15 days later letting you know that the payment was sent. The agency won’t be hounding you or anyone else over the phone, email or text about it. That letter is useful because it serves as official verification that your stimulus payment was sent out. If you get one after receiving your payment, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. But if you get one before your payment arrives, it’s a sign that you might be the victim of fraud.