Government checks and the coronavirus: Watch out for scams
Cash could help ease some of the financial strain being experienced by many tied to the coronavirus. That’s why the U.S. government has proposed a plan to send money by check or direct deposit to many Americans.
But already the Federal Trade Commission is warning Americans to watch out for scams related to the financial-relief effort.
For instance, scammers might pose as federal employees and try to trick you into providing sensitive personal information such as your Social Security number. The scammers might say — by email, phone call, in person, or by other means — that they need the information to send you money.
What should you do? Don’t provide any information. It’s a scam.
Keep in mind, as of March 20, 2020, the government hasn’t finalized plans for the payments. But the FTC says it’s important to start protecting yourself against scams now.
3 ways to tell it’s a scam
It’s smart to keep these three things in mind, according to an FTC blog post.
- The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. No fees. No charges. No nothing.xs
- The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.
- The reports of government checks aren’t yet a reality. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
How to report scams
If you detect a scam or become a victim of one, it’s important to report it. Here’s how.
You can report a scam to the FTC. Visit www.ftc.gov/complaint. Your information may help the FTC identify and prosecute scammers. It can also help the agency inform the public about new scams.
To find out more about coronavirus-related scams, go to www.ftc.gov/coronavirus. You can also sign up to get consumer alerts.
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