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How to spot signs of a stimulus check scam

Here are some tips on how to spot a scam

As stimulus checks are being distributed, the IRS is reminding people to be on the lookout for scams.

For more information from the IRS on stimulus checks, click here

Ways to spot a potential scam from LifeLock

• Usage of phrases like "stimulus check" or "stimulus payment." The official term is economic impact payment.

• Being asked to sign over your economic impact payment in exchange for receiving additional funds.

• Requests by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information. Fraudsters may claim the information is needed to receive or speed up your economic impact payment.

• Being asked by someone for personal information in order to get an economic impact payment faster by working on your behalf.

• Being mailed a bogus check and asked to call or verify information online in order to cash it.          

IRS Special Agent in Charge of the St. Louis Field Office, Karl Stiften, offers the following information and tips to spot a scam and understand how the COVID-19 related economic impact payments will be issued.

“The existence of a deadly national pandemic will not stop criminals seeking to capitalize on the fears and difficulties faced by the public as they try to line their own pockets by stealing your money or your personal information,” he said.

• The IRS will deposit your check into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return (or, in the alternative, send you a paper check).

• The IRS will not call and ask you to verify your payment details. Do not give out your bank account or any other account information - even if someone claims it's necessary to get your check. It's a scam.

• If you receive a call, don't engage with scammers or thieves, even if you want to tell them that you know it's a scam, or you think that you can beat them. Just hang up.

• If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal information or clicking on links, delete them. Don't click on any links in those emails or texts.

• Reports are also swirling about bogus checks.  If you receive a “check” for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires that you verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a fraud.

What to do if you suspect fraud

You should report the scam to the FTC (www.ftc.gov/complaint).

LifeLock provided some proactive measures you can take to help avoid becoming a victim of scams related to your potential economic impact payment.

• Be wary of any email, text, phone call, or social media request for money or other personal identifiable information in exchange for receiving your payment more quickly.

• Never send money to someone else in the hope of receiving additional money. The scam artist may call this a deposit, an advance, or a processing fee. This is always the sign of a scam.

• Never give your personal or financial information over the phone.


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