Frauds have been spreading like the virus throughout the pandemic.
The $600 stimulus checks that were authorized in the economic stimulus bill approved by U.S. lawmakers late last year have helped spark an unprecedented number of scams. As of mid-January, the Federal Trade Commission had received more than 320,000 reports of coronavirus-related fraud.
Now that Congress will debate President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s economic stimulus and relief package that would include checks for $1,400, scammers are likely to be looking for new fraud opportunities.
To prevent hoaxes, authorities and experts urge the community to remain vigilant. Many criminals use a tried-and-true method: impersonating government agencies’ representatives in calls or emails.
According to SocialCatfish.com, there are four common forms of scams.
Telephone calls: Someone impersonating an IRS representative can call — or can send a “robocall” — asking for personal financial information. The callers often say they need it to deposit the stimulus check into an account, but they empty it instead.
How to avoid it: It’s important to remember that the IRS does not call people regarding the stimulus check. Do not give the caller any personal information. The government already has the information it needs. It will automatically deposit the money into the account provided in the previous’ year taxes, or the check will arrive by mail at one’s home.
Email: Scammers send a message via email, messenger service, or phishing message on social media, claiming they are government representatives. They may ask the user to click a link to verify the information. They could also send a text message requesting the recipient click on a link to complete a form in order to receive the stimulus check.
How to avoid it: Do not click on any such links sent via email or text message. The government already has the information it needs and will deposit the money or send checks or debit cards by mail.
Fake website: Suspicious links could lead users to fake websites that will download malware to their devices and steal their banking information. These sites also contain forms that can be filled out, giving the scammer access to personal or financial information.
How to avoid it: Don’t go to any website that doesn’t end in “.gov.” There are no non-governmental websites offering stimulus checks. It is essential to report any fake website to prevent further scams.
Fake checks: Scammers have been sending counterfeit checks that resemble those sent by the government. Once someone deposits them, the scammers send a text message impersonating a government official. They usually ask for some money back, claiming too much was sent.
How to avoid it: Ask the bank to verify if the check is legitimate. If someone requests the return of part of the money, inform the bank immediately.
The IRS encourages people with questions regarding stimulus payments to visit the Frequently Asked Questions section of its website or call 800-919-9835.
To learn more about COVID-19 scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website. Report any fraud or attempted scam to the FTC.
Cuidado con las estafas que se propagan como el Covid-19 was first published on Negocios Now.
(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos. Edited by Matthew Hall)
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