ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — You should be seeing a boost to your bank account in the coming weeks as stimulus checks begin to roll out, but that might not be the only boost you see.
Scammers are looking to cheat you out of your check, and one of the ways they're doing it is pretending to be the IRS.
According to Pinellas County Consumer Protection, scammers are sending fake emails that claim to be from the IRS. If you happen to get one of those emails, calls, or texts, Pinellas County has a clear warning for you: "do not give out personal or financial information and do not send money."
Here's how the scammers are operating to scam you out of your stimulus check:
Pinellas County Consumer Protection says the scammers will call, email, and/or text you, and pretend to be from the IRS. They say in one scam, these fake IRS emails advise you that a direct deposit is the fastest and easiest way to get your stimulus check. They even provide a link for you to enter your bank account and other personal information.
Scammers may also claim that they can expedite stimulus payments or secure a personal loan for you...for a fee, of course.
The IRS' Tampa Bay Field Office offered additional advice and tips to help you not get duped by scammers:
- The IRS will not call and ask you to verify your payment details. Do not give out your bank account, debit account, or PayPal account information, even if someone claims it's necessary to get your check.
- 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.
- 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” in the mail now, it’s a fraud. It will take the Treasury a few weeks to mail those out. If you get 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 fake!
If you suspect COVID-19 fraud, you can report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 866-720-5721 or to Pinellas County Consumer Protection.
According to the IRS, economic impact payments from the federal coronavirus stimulus package should be sent out in the next three weeks, but it could take longer for some people to receive the money.
If you gave bank account information when you filed taxes last year, you'll get your check via direct deposit. If you don't have banking information on file with the IRS, you'll get your stimulus check in the mail. You can get the latest information on the payments here.
Stimulus check fraud isn't the only scam running around that's connected to COVID-19, the Pinellas County Consumer Protection says.
You should also be on the lookout for other types of COVID-19 fraud that include:
- Anyone selling fake testing kits, treatments or cures for COVID-19
- Websites seeking donations for illegitimate or nonexistent COVID-19 charities
- Phishing emails from entities posing as the CDC or WHO, which may contain malware
- Robocalls offering medical supplies with no intent to deliver
- Websites claiming to provide stimulus funds when consumers input their bank information
- Fraudulent medical billing for procedures related to COVID-19
- Hoarding or price-gouging of necessary supplies
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- Princess cruise ship carrying passengers with flu-like symptoms headed to Florida
- Stimulus check calculator: See how much you'll likely be getting
- Man accused of killing 3, kidnapping his son involved in standoff with law enforcement in Tampa
- Hotlines, websites offer the latest on COVID-19
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