People are eagerly waiting for their second stimulus check while millions haven’t gotten their first check yet. Scammers and hackers are using this anxiety to their benefit. Even though Congress hasn’t yet passed the next stimulus package, some people recently reported getting a message. The text message, which is a scam, says that they need to click on the given link to claim their coronavirus stimulus check.
Since the approval of the CARES Act in March, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has received over 5,000 complaints from people who got fraudulent text messages. As per a report from News10NBC, such a scam has duped Americans of around more than $2 million.
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The fraudulent message that many received reads: “You have a three pending direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment into your account. Continue here to accept this payment.” The message also includes a link that redirects them to a suspicious European website, the News10NBC report says.
A few people also reported getting a text message about the second coronavirus stimulus check. Some users also reported getting a text message that encourages them to call the mentioned number for assistance on the stimulus check.
One user who called the number was threatened. “They told me that if I did not give them my Social Security number a warrant would be issued for my arrest,” the user told 6WATE.
Several coronavirus stimulus checks related scams have surfaced since March. For instance, in one of the scams, fraudsters called people to inform them about special coronavirus grants. To avail themselves of this grant, people had to verify their identity first. In another scam, fraudsters tricked people into sharing their personal and financial details, as well as pay a “processing fee” to get their stimulus checks faster.
How to avoid stimulus scams?
These scams are expected to accelerate post-election. This is because lawmakers are now largely expected to pass the package after the election. So, you need to be more careful than ever to avoid falling to such scams. Below are a few tips that would help you to avoid such scams:
First, don’t click on the links in text messages or e-mails that talk about coronavirus stimulus checks. As per the FTC, the IRS never contacts anyone by “phone, email, text message, or social media with information about your stimulus payment.”
Another thing that will help you is checking the words of the message you get. The official name of the stimulus check is “economic impact payment.” So any message talking about “stimulus checks” or “coronavirus payment” is likely a scam.
Third, never reveal your personal or financial information in response to such messages. To share information with the IRS, you must use the IRS’ official website.