Fear and confusion create an ideal climate for scammers. Now, more than ever, it's important to be on alert for fraud, email phishing, and bogus requests for your personal information.
Economic Impact Payments
With the release of the Economic Impact Payments ("stimulus payments"), fraudsters and scammers may take advantage of this opportunity. For example:
- Scammers may try to get you to sign over your check to them.
- Scammers may use this as an opportunity to get you to "verify" your filing information in order to receive your money, using your personal information at a later date to file false tax returns in an identity theft scheme.
Being aware of these kinds of efforts is always smart. Here are some facts and tips which might help you protect yourself:
- The IRS will deposit your check into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return (or, in the alternative, send you a paper check).
- The IRS will not call and ask you to verify your payment details. Do not give out your bank account, debit account, or PayPal account information - even if someone claims it's necessary to get your stimulus check. It's a scam.
- If you receive a call, don't engage with scammers or thieves, even if you want to tell them that you know it's a scam. Just hang up.
- If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal information or clicking on links, delete them. Don't click on any links in those emails.
- Reports are also swirling about bogus checks. If you receive a “stimulus check” for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires that you verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s fraud.
Learn more about Economic Impact Payments ("stimulus payments").
Tips for catching and reporting suspicious emails:
- Inspect emails for grammatical, spelling, or other errors, even those claiming to be from CDC or WHO.
- At no time will you ever receive an email or call from the bank asking for your login credentials.
- Before clicking links, hover over them to see the URL. Search it to make sure the link is legitimate before clicking.
- If you suspect an email is fraudulent, DO NOT REPLY TO THE EMAIL! Attach the emails you received to a new email and send to email@example.com, or contact us. Delete it from your inbox.
The FBI says to be wary of emails claiming to be from the Center of Disease Control (CDC), but also be alert to any suspicious email from a sender you don’t recognize. A short inspection can go a long way in discerning potential harm.
You may receive a call from someone pretending to be with the IRS asking you to reroute your stimulus check to pay off a preexisting debt. Or the IRS imposter might claim that you need to provide your Social Security number to receive your stimulus check. Don’t provide this information. The IRS will never call you to ask for this information.
If you call the Citizens One call center, you may be asked to provide personal information in order to verify your identity. In that instance, it’s OK to provide some personal information. However, that is very different than someone calling you first, because you can’t be sure the person reaching out to you can be trusted.
Learn what the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and the CFPB (Consumer Finance Protection Bureau) are doing to protect you from coronavirus scams.
Learn more about how to protect yourself from COVID-19 fraud scams.