Scammers thrive on people who are confused and desperate, making the current pandemic situation ideal for them. Now they might be after your stimulus payment. Confusion about how and when those payments of up to $1,200 or more will arrive from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in combination with people’s desperation for financial relief, have made the process perfect for scammers.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has already gotten more than 18,000 complaints of fraudulent activity related to stimulus payments as of April 15th. To keep yourself safe you should beware of stimulus-related emails, calls and texts—the government is way too busy to contact you in any way to let you know your check is on the way, so if anyone contacts you asking for personal information it’s likely someone trying to scam you. Also, the stimulus payments aren’t officially called “stimulus checks” by the IRS—the official term is “economic impact payment.” So beware of any email, call or text using the unofficial term—it’s a clue the message is not legit.
Other things to look out for: the IRS should be sending you a receipt for your payment in the mail 15 days after you get it (whether through direct deposit or as a paper check)—they won’t be contacting you in any other way—so make sure you get that letter after receiving your payment, if you get it before it’s a sign something could be amiss. And if you get suspicious for any reason let the FTC know about it on their complaint page.