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Stimulus Check Scams Are Here

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On March 27, President Trump signed a sweeping bill into law that grants American taxpayers much-needed financial relief during the coronavirus pandemic.

Americans will get direct assistance in the form of a check or deposit from the U.S. Treasury, many receiving sums greater than $1,000.

But not everyone is eligible. The payments are based on tax returns filed for the years 2018 and 2019, and high-income earners may not receive checks at all.

Here’s a cynical expression we can assume all phishing scammers keep in mind: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Even in light of a global pandemic, the worst of the worst are still trying to steal money from innocent people.


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Scammers are now preying on the financially desperate with deceptive emails that claim to be from the U.S. government. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued an urgent consumer alert about scams pretending to be signups for the stimulus check.

The scammers use realistic government formatting in their messages to gain trust from their victims. The criminals then ask for bank information, Paypal accounts or Social Security numbers so they can “deposit the check.”

That’s not the only tricky scam making the rounds at this time. Several people in Florida reported receiving what looked like a COVID-19-related stimulus check in the mail for a whopping $3,000, which is more than any of the legitimate checks for individuals.

The check appears urgent, with multiple stamps like “time sensitive” and “do not bend” on the envelope.

But upon closer inspection, the check isn’t even a check at all, but one of the most cynical advertisements of all time.

The best defense against any criminal phishing scheme or fake check in the mail is to know what you’re up against and avoid it at all costs. For the fake letters, just remember to pay close attention to any mail you receive. The truth often reveals itself.

As for the fake texts and messages, these scams are primarily sent via email, text messages and WhatsApp alerts. It’s important to remember the U.S. government will never contact you through these channels. The government tends to prefer snail mail or emergency alerts.

Regardless, you won’t be asked by the government to provide personal information like your Paypal account, much less your Social Security number, over an insecure form of communication like emails or text messages — but not everyone knows that, and that lack of knowledge is what hackers are banking on.

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