Beware of Covid-19 Stimulus Payment Scams
posted on Thursday, February 25, 2021 in Fraud
With COVID-19 scams heavily occurring, the release of the stimulus relief checks from the government has opened a new opportunity for hackers to prey on consumers.
According to the IRS, U.S. residents should expect to receive stimulus checks delivered via three methods: a direct deposit into an account, payment cards, or paper checks. Nevertheless, individuals continue to encounter instances of criminals using stimulus-themed emails and text messages to trick individuals into providing personally identifiable information and bank account details.
While the details of the third round of check distribution are still being developed, below are some tips to help you avoid falling for these dangerous stimulus scams!
- Don't answer unsolicited calls or emails
Spoofing and automatic dialing technology makes it easy for scammers to imitate any organization. Dodge unfamiliar phone numbers, especially those claiming to be the IRS, Treasury Department, or a state unemployment benefits agency.
- Don't share sensitive personal information
One common stimulus check scam involves emails, texts, or social media posts with a link leading to a bogus application. Spoofed pages allow fraudsters to steal PPI, i.e. Social Security numbers, bank account details, credit card numbers, or to install malware on the victim's device. The IRS will never ask for personal bank account information, even stimulus payments.
- You cannot pay to get your stimulus "early"
Sometimes, fraudsters will offer expedited payments, or even supplementary funds, in exchange for a processing fee - typically using a prepaid debit or gift card. Paying a fee does not move the stimulus payment up the line faster.
- Don't fall victim to Doppelganger Checks
A typical doppelganger scheme: You receive a bogus check and deposit it in your bank account. The fraudster reaches out and claims that the amount deposited was incorrect, asking to return the balance of overpaid funds. But, when the financial institution completes a review of the bogus check, the victim stands to lost both the money they believed to have received, as well as the money returned to the fraudster.
How to report the scam?
If you have fallen victim to any of these stimulus payment scams, please contact us at 866.360.5370 or stop by your local branch to speak with a C1st Representative. You can also report it to the Federal Trade Commission to help protect others.