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December 28, 2020

Don’t Let Scammers Steal Your Stimulus Money Or Personal Information

With the recent passage of a second COVID-19 relief bill, all qualifying adult taxpayers can expect to receive stimulus money, also referred to as economic impact payments, direct payments or stimulus checks. When sums of money are being distributed, you can guarantee fraudsters won’t be far behind. Protect your personal information and stimulus money by staying vigilant. These tips can help you stay secure:

Don’t share personal information over phone, text or email.

Official government entities, like the IRS, will never ask you to verify personal information through email or over the phone. Never provide your account numbers, social security number or other private information to anyone, even if they claim to be from the IRS. When in doubt about the legitimacy of an email or voicemail, get in touch with the government agency or financial institution directly by calling their official phone number, which is always publicly available on their website. If you’re asked to return a call to a different number, the voicemail is probably a scam.

Don’t click on links or attachments in emails or text messages that you didn’t request.

When you’re unsure where an email or text message came from, it’s best not to open it and just delete it. Scammers can create fake communications that use official-sounding language, maybe even a stolen logo, to feign legitimacy by mimicking a government agency or financial institution. They may pretend to be from the IRS asking you to “confirm your social security number to receive your stimulus payment,” or other falsehoods designed to steal your information. Never open attachments in emails, or click links in text messages, that you weren’t specifically expecting. These attachments or links could potentially download viruses or other dangerous content designed to spy on you, collect your personal information, trick you out of your stimulus money or worse.

Know that you won’t have to pay anything to receive the stimulus check.

The IRS will not ask you to deposit your check and then send them money. Stimulus payments will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the most recent tax return that you filed, either 2018 or 2019. If the IRS does not have a taxpayer’s direct deposit information, a physical check will be mailed to their last known address on file.

Only trust information from official sources.

There will likely be a lot of misinformation floating around the internet and social networking sites, especially as the details of the stimulus checks are rolled out by the IRS. Make sure to get news and updates only from official sources, such as IRS.gov. Scammers may try to create misinformation designed to mislead the public.

Do you believe you’ve been a victim of fraud or identity theft? Visit identitytheft.gov, the official government website that allows you to report fraud to the IRS and FTC simultaneously.

For our latest updates about COVID-19 and related content, visit growfinancial.org/covid-19.


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