coronavirus scam alerts, shows the virus cell plus a laptop computer

BE ALERT! ~ STIMULUS CHECK & CORONAVIRUS SCAMS

Stimulus checks from the U.S. government are now reaching many Americans providing much needed relief. This financial aid should be used to help pay bills, buy groceries, and reduce financial and economic damage caused by COVID-19. Coronavirus direct payments will likely be in the form of direct deposit or U.S. Treasury checks. The IRS will use the direct deposit information on file from your 2019 taxes. Most qualified recipients do not need to apply, sign up, or verify personal information. During this time, it is crucial to be aware of the Coronavirus stimulus scams from fraudsters.

Tips to Avoid Stimulus Check Scams:

  • Approach communications related to your stimulus check with extreme caution.
    Government agencies will not communicate through social media posts/messages, email, or text messages. Be on the alert for scammer phone calls and remember there are tools to duplicate/fake phone numbers and caller IDs.
  • Be aware of fake checks in the mail.
    If you receive a check for an odd amount with cents, or if the check requires you to call a number or verify the check online, it’s likely a fraud.
  • Never pay a fee for a government grant.
    Government agencies will never request an advanced processing fee to receive a grant.
  • Beware of fake government agencies promoted by fraudsters.
    The only official list of all U.S. federal grant-making agencies can be found at www.grants.gov.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states:

  1. Most citizens will not need to do anything.
  2. To set up direct deposit of your check, communicate only with the IRS at www.irs.gov/coronavirus. You only need to do this if you didn’t give the IRS your bank information on your 2018 or 2019 return.
  3. Do not give anyone your personal information to “sign-up” for your relief check.
  4. No one has early access to this money. Anyone that claims to be a scammer.

To look up the status of your check, visit the following URL set up by the IRS website.

For more details visit consumer.ftc.gov.

AVOID CORONAVIRUS SCAMS

It’s unfortunate, but statistics already indicate the sad truth that in times of emergencies and distress, the number of scams tend to increase. Scammers use the confusion, fear, and misinformation to their advantage in an attempt to gain access to your finances and personal information. During the Coronavirus outbreak, you may be more likely to find scammers attempting to lure you in a trap. It’s essential to take precaution to avoid a scam when you spot one.

Here are tips from the FTC to help prevent being a victim of a Coronavirus scam:

  • Hang up on robocalls  Avoid pressing numbers if you answer.
  • Ignore offers for home test kits and vaccinations. Currently, there are no FDA-authorized home test kits that are capable of testing for Coronavirus.
  • Do your research. There is a great amount of information shared online that is not verified. You can Visit What the U.S. Government is doing for links to local, state, and federal government agencies.
  • Beware of who you’re buying from. Only make online purchases from trusted retailers.
  • Do not respond to calls, texts, emails or social media messages regarding checks or assistance from the government.
  • Never click on links from sources you don’t recognize. These could lead to an unknown source that may contain a virus. This is a form of “phishing” for your information.
  • Be cautious of emails claiming to be from the CDC or “experts” claiming to have information about the Coronavirus. You can visit the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for accurate Coronavirus information.
  • Do your research when making any donation. Avoid sending cash, wiring money, or giving a gift card.

All this information and more can be found by visiting: consumer.ftc.org