Many have been waiting for the second stimulus checks since the past month or so. The wait is likely over as we are now entering the phase that will see serious discussions on the next relief package. Scammers, however, are using this phase to trick people. They are deploying scams that lure people desperate for the second coronavirus stimulus check to click on false links.
Viral coronavirus stimulus check scam
One such coronavirus stimulus check scam is making the rounds on Facebook at the moment. A viral Facebook post provides a link, saying people wanting the second stimulus check need to apply via this link. The post encourages others to sign up, saying "I've already filed for mine and will be receiving $2,000 a month for the next year.”
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Those who see such posts must not fall for it, as it is a hoax. Clicking the link directs people to an image of a gorilla with its middle finger extended.
More coronavirus stimulus check related scams are expected to appear as we move closer to the next stimulus package and the IRS starts sending out direct payments (provided it is approved).
Last week, the IRS cautioned people about scams that trick people into giving them their economic impact payments. The agency revealed its annual "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams. This year’s list specifically mentions about “aggressive and evolving” tricks related to coronavirus tax relief, including Economic Impact Payments.
"Tax scams tend to rise during tax season or during times of crisis, and scam artists are using pandemic to try stealing money and information from honest taxpayers," the IRS said in a press release.
Don’t fall for these scams
Some of the "Dirty Dozen" scams, including coronavirus stimulus check scams that the IRS cautioned about are detailed below.
Following the first stimulus checks, a jump was seen in fake emails, letters, text and links using the words “coronavirus” and “stimulus." Such scams try to trick people into revealing their personal information.
Another way scammers try to trick users is pretending to be fake charities. Scammers posing as fake charity groups try to trick taxpayers into “donating.” Scammers often use names of popular legitimate groups.
During normal years, scammers try to file a fraudulent return on behalf of a taxpayer to get their refund. This time, however, the scammers have used fraudulent returns to trick users’ economic impact payments as well. There have also been cases when dishonest tax return preparers tricked honest taxpayers out of their money.
Scammers also use ransomware, a type of malware to infect a victim's computer, network or server. It is an invasive software that gets downloaded on the users’ system and helps scammers steal confidential information.
The elderly and non-English speakers are relatively easy targets for scammers. Scammers use robocalls to threaten people with limited English-speaking proficiency, in order to get their personal information.