here are red flags to watch out for – Community News
Stimulus Check

here are red flags to watch out for

Americans lost more than $211 million to Covid-19 scams and stimulus payment fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Since January, the agency has received more than 275,600 complaints.

While fraud activity has fallen from the highs recorded earlier this year, it is likely to pick up again as President Donald Trump has signed the $900 billion pandemic aid package, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021.

That’s because the legislation includes provisions for a second round of incentive payments, up to $600 per person, including dependent children under 17, if you’re an individual who earned less than $75,000 in 2019 ($150,000 for married couples who jointly to file a request). Stimulus payments begin to taper off if you earn more than that, and stop completely for those with adjusted gross incomes of $87,000 or more ($174,000 for married couples).

The IRS is expected to initiate incentive payment direct deposits by Thursday and send paper checks and debit cards by Jan. 15. And while Trump signed the aid package a little later than expected, a senior official told CNBC on Monday that the payments will be made on the same timeline.

But the lingering uncertainty surrounding the second round of stimulus payments creates the “perfect storm for fraudsters trying to make an unfair dollar,” said Florida attorney general Ashley Moody. On Monday, Moody’s office posted a message warning the public of the increased potential for scams.

“Scammers are always looking for new opportunities, like passing another round of federal incentives, to defraud consumers,” Moody says.

Here are five common red flags that experts say can signal a stimulus control scam.

1. Cold Calls or Emails

Spoofing technology has made it easier than ever for scammers to impersonate anyone, including government agencies. To protect yourself, most experts advise consumers not to pick up calls from unfamiliar phone numbers – have them leave a voicemail for further investigation.

“I would be very wary of any incoming emails or phone calls purporting to be from the IRS, the Treasury Department, a state unemployment benefit agency, etc.,” said Ted Rossman, a credit industry analyst at If you get a phone call or message that you believe may be from a government agency, start a separate means of communication, Rossman says. For example, call the agency back at a number you trust or listed on their official site, rather than answering directly to a phone call or email.

If you answer a call and it comes to your stimulus payment, keep in mind that US government agencies do not ask you to pay anything upfront to receive your money. ‘Anyone who does that is a scammer’ writes Jennifer Leach, associate director for the FTC’s consumer and business education division.

In addition, government agencies “will not call, text, email, or contact you on social media to ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number,” Leach says. Again, if you receive messages asking for this information, it is likely a scam.

2. Messages asking to “verify” or provide information

3. High-Pressure Actions

4. There is a fee

5. Similar Controls