The U.S. Treasury Department has started the process of issuing economic impact payments also known as stimulus checks as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Fraudsters are using this opportunity to try to trick consumers into providing sensitive information which can be used to steal identities, perform fraudulent transactions or even open fraudulent accounts. Now is the time to be extra vigilant in defending against scammers.
The following is important information about the stimulus payments and tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:
- No action is required – Checks will automatically be issued to qualified individuals.
- Direct deposit payments – If direct deposit information was included in the most recent tax return, the stimulus payment will be deposited to the same account.
- Payments by mail – If direct deposit information is not on file, checks will be sent by mail to qualified individuals to the address on file on the most recent tax return. Take measures to protect your mail from theft.
- There is no need to sign up – Consumers do not need to sign up or initiate any kind of action to receive a stimulus payment.
Beware of calls, emails and text messages requesting information to process a stimulus payment. These are simply attempts to steal personal information. Do not provide personal information, like your social security number, PayPal account, or bank information to anyone through email, text or phone. According to businessinsider.com, here are common scams related to stimulus checks:
- Early access to money – don’t fall for false claims that the stimulus payment can be expedited for a small fee
- Fake checks – Rumors of people receiving fake checks are going around. The Treasury has not mailed any checks yet. They plan to do in the coming weeks.
- Social media messages – any request for personal information through social media is a scam
- Fake agencies – beware of anyone representing an agency you’ve never heard of asking for personal information
- Beware of correspondence appearing to be from the Treasury Department or IRS – this is likely part of an attempt to steal information
- Visit the Federal Trade Commission website to learn more about scams associated with the COVID-19 pandemic
- As a matter of practice, do not share your personal information from any unsolicited communication
- Pacific Service CU, we will never ask for your personal information through email
- If you think you have been a victim of fraud, please contact a member service representative at (888) 858-6878