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Scammers Are Targeting Stimulus Checks, So Please Don't Open That Mail or Share Details On Phone

These scammers are leading victims to share sensitive information to obtain checks in their names. 
UPDATED AUG 24, 2023
Image Source: Mohamed Hassan/ Pixabay
Image Source: Mohamed Hassan/ Pixabay

Scammers are devising conniving ways to dupe people, and it's stimulus checks now. Stimulus checks are common for US citizens, primarily because these are described as a payment made by the government to the taxpayers of the country, per Investopedia.

Disseminated at the time of the great economic crisis, these checks are delivered as encouraging tokens to help people develop healthy spending habits to support the economic overhaul. These checks were last circulated in 2021 when the Covid pandemic was at its peak and were later disabled once economic development stabilized. However, scammers are now incorporating novel ways to dupe people online under the guise of stimulus checks.

These scammers are leading victims to share sensitive information to obtain checks in their names. 

Image Source: Mohamed Hassan/Pixabay
Image Source: Mohamed Hassan/Pixabay

How to identify stimulus check scams

Scammers have primarily targeted users through emails, sometimes through phone calls, to persuade them to share their personal data. Here's how these scammers usually approach their targets.

Phishing emails

They usually contact their target through phishing emails. These emails are usually ill-crafted, lack proper formatting and have spelling errors, which is your first warning sign. Sometimes these emails may include a link, compelling you to click on it. Once you click on it, the link may contain a bug, corrupting your whole software and stealing important data from your computer, laptop or phone. 

Cover Image Source: Pexels | Tara Winstead
Image Source: Tara Winstead/Pexels 

Deceitful phone calls 

Scammers are also making phone calls to people asking them to reveal their personal data in order to receive their stimulus checks. In such a case, blocking the number and reporting it to the authorities can be a great way to avoid being duped.

Cover Image Source: istockphoto/Thai Liang Lim
Image Source: istockphoto/Thai Liang Lim

Sending fake checks

Scammers can also send a personal EIP debit card or fake stimulus checks for people to explore and indulge in. These posts may prompt users to wire extra money in order to gain access to these checks, which is again a sign that boldly signals a breach of security, which a government authority will never entertain.

There's a fee involved

Sometimes scammers promise to help people get their payments faster, or even additional funds for a small “processing fee" using a prepaid debit or gift card, according to the BBB Scam Tracker. “If anyone offers a cash advance on your stimulus check, be very aware of the underlying terms and conditions of that offer,” says Rhoads-Herrera, per CNBC Make It.

The recipient of the bogus or government-lookalike check deposits it in their bank account. The fraudsters then tell the victim that the amount deposited was incorrect and ask them to return the overpaid funds. When the bank finally reviews the check and determines it’s fake, the victim neither receives the money they were “supposed” to receive nor the “unintended” overage they likely returned.

The Better Business Bureau suggests doing your research to ensure the check is real and to confirm that the government agency or organization issuing the payment actually exists, as reported by CNBC Make It.

Image Source: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels
Image Source: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

US Government issues a warning against stimulus check scams

As these scams gain more momentum within the US economy, US IRS officials have come forth to deliver their strict stance on any such practices. According to Marca, IRS commissioner Chuck Rettig has urged citizens of the US not to indulge in any of the scams, per Marca. "Scammers continue using the pandemic as a device to scare or confuse potential victims into handing over their hard-earned money or personal information…I urge everyone to be leery of suspicious calls, texts, and emails promising benefits that don't exist," he said. 

Scammers will always find new ways to extort money, but being discreet in one's endeavors and helping spread awareness related to such scams can help restrict such practices from progressing further ahead.