Right now, the nation is gripped by a very serious public health crisis. The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has completely changed the way people all over the world interact with each other.
While there have been some very inspirational stories of brotherhood and kindheartedness, there have also been news reports of an increase in scams. Among those scams we’re seeing more frequently are stimulus check-related schemes targeting individuals who are hoping for fast financial relief from the US government.
At Matthew R. Osborne, PC, we put the financial safety and security of our clients first. We believe consumers have the right to protect themselves from fraudsters looking to make a quick buck by tricking people into parting with their money.
To that end, we’d like to share with you some information you can use to keep yourself safe from stimulus check scam predators.
Rule #1: Know Who You’re Dealing With
If your phone rings and someone on the other end claims to be representing the IRS, be extremely cautious. For the most part, the IRS prefers to communicate using mailed letters and notices, and it’s generally rare for them to pick up the phone and call an individual consumer about anything.
The same goes for email communication. Stimulus check scammers are ramping up their emailing activities and sending consumers emails that may look legitimate at first glance but have the ulterior motive of stealing your identity, your money, or other assets.
Remember to validate the source of any email you receive from an official government office like the IRS, Department of the Treasury, or the Federal Reserve Bank.
Rule #2: Expect to Be Targeted
Even if you’re not getting a stimulus check, it’s still good advice to remain vigilant of scammers. While they may not be able to steal a stimulus check from you, they might aim for your identity, instead. And, they’ll do it under the guise of operating as a government representative.
Our law firm represents consumers whose identities have been compromised by nefarious individuals who take out loans, run up credit lines, and even buy cars using someone else’s identifying information. We’ve seen first-hand the kind of havoc that can come from an identity theft situation.
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you expect that you’ll eventually be targeted by a stimulus check scammer at some point, you’ll stand a higher chance of detecting the scam for what it is.
Rule #3: Be Extra Careful on Social Media
Nowadays, it’s very, very easy to create fake profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
Because of this, social media has become incredibly popular with scammers. They will use fabricated accounts to contact unwitting consumers, promising them things like:
- Faster stimulus check processing
- Bonus payments on top of the stimulus payment
- “Too good to be true” investment alternatives to cashing your check
- Huge returns from signing over your check to them
Thankfully, it doesn’t take much to get a social media scammer shut down by the platform they’re using. However, these criminals are very persistent, and they’ll be back with another fake profile before too long.
Remember that social media is not inherently safe. There are thousands of scammers online right now, and they’re trying to find individuals who will trust them enough to send them their personal details and even their physical stimulus checks.
Rule #4: Report Any Scamming Attempts
In addition to flagging social media posts or direct messages as being predatory or dishonest, there are some other steps you can take to help in the fight against stimulus check scammers.
If you believe you have been the victim of a scam aimed at stealing your Coronavirus stimulus check (even if the scam attempt wasn’t successful), the Treasury Inspector General of the United States wants to hear from you. Please visit this page and provide as much information as you can so authorities can track down and prosecute these criminals.
If we all report the scams we find, cybercriminals will have a much harder time trying to cheat honest Americans out of their stimulus money.
For Consumer Rights Legal Counsel and Representation, Contact Us
We understand that during these difficult times, consumers need us more than ever.
Identity theft and credit reporting inaccuracies are likely to balloon like never before in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. And, we’ll be here to meet the needs of our clients.