There’s plenty of talk about what the phase 4 stimulus package will include, but checks from car dealerships have never been on the table, either for the next phase or in any of the first three phases of economic relief. The Federal Trade Commission is now warning about the many ads suggesting people can get stimulus checks from car dealerships.
Claims of stimulus checks from car dealerships are a scam
The agency noted that scammers will try many different tactics to try to get at your money during these tough economic times. It also cited a complaint it received involving a scheme that involved used car sales and false claims that the federal government is linked to a program advertised by mailers sent by Traffic Jam Events, a direct mail marketing firm for auto dealers.
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The FTC is taking legal action against the firm for the scheme, which involved mailers labeled as "Important COVID-19 stimulus documents." The mailers told consumers to visit "relief headquarters" to "claim these stimulus incentives."
Consumers were led to believe they could temporarily claim stimulus checks by visiting an address in Florida. However, those who were duped by the mailers found that when they arrived at "relief headquarters," they discovered a dealer selling used cars.
Traffic Jam Events also sent out checks that read "COVID-19 Auto Stimulus" and had space to endorse the check on the back, but there was no stimulus money for car dealerships in the CARES Act. The federal government also isn't using car dealerships to send stimulus checks.
If you didn't receive one of the mailers, you may have seen one of the online ads claiming something similar about stimulus checks and car dealerships. Google appears to have cracked down on the ads since being called out for the large number of scam ads related to the coronavirus stimulus checks. I couldn't find any of the car dealership ads that mention stimulus when I looked today.
Recommendations from the FTC
The FTC advises all consumers who receive promotional mailers to investigate the company sending it before they act. The agency suggests searching online for the company name with words such as "scam," "review" or "complaint."
The agency also reminds consumers not to click on links in text messages or emails, which could download malware onto their device and take them to a site that's trying to collect their personal information. The FTC advises consumers to look up the name of the company that sent the text or email and then call the number they find in their research instead of the one given in the email or text.
The agency also reminds consumers not to fall for scams in which they are supposedly required to pay by gift card, cryptocurrency or wire transfer. No legitimate businesses will require consumers to pay using those methods.