COVID-19 WV Executive Branch Tips
Updated 4/1/2020 1:39 PM
Looking for a COVID-19 Stimulus Checks? Avoid a Coronavirus Stimulus Check Scam
This post will be updated as more information becomes available
With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting everyone across the United States, the U.S. federal government has passed the largest stimulus package ever to help minimize financial impacts businesses and consumers. Coronavirus stimulus checks are being mentioned in the news daily, which is leading fraudsters to come up with stimulus check scams.
While there is a lot of speculation about what these payments might look like, all anyone knows right now is that the $2 trillion stimulus package has been passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives. The details around how the coronavirus stimulus checks will be distributed are still being worked out.
If anyone receives any messages or letters regarding a government check, it is very likely a coronavirus stimulus check scam. The government will not ask anyone for anyone’s Social Security number, bank account number or credit card number; the government will also not ask anyone to pay a fee upfront to get their government check; there will not be a way to “expedite payment” through a service provider either.
While the details around the stimulus package are still being worked out, it has been reported that people will not have to sign up to receive their coronavirus stimulus check. Instead, it will be an automatic process for anyone that qualifies. The IRS is expected to distribute the funds based on the direct deposit information consumers provided in their 2018 or 2019 tax returns. That means all people will have to do is wait for their stimulus check to arrive via direct deposit.
If anyone did not provide their bank account information on their last tax return, the IRS will mail people their stimulus checks. There have also been discussions about the possibility of sending some payments to consumers on prepaid debit cards to speed up the process. Once again, it is not yet known how the coronavirus stimulus checks will be disbursed. If someone reaches out saying that they can get the stimulus payment to you on a debit/credit card, please report it to local authorities or the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
However, with the stimulus package passing, people can expect to see a rise in stimulus check scams. If the government ends up mailing checks and/or prepaid debit cards, people can also expect to see a rise in prepaid card scams and physical mail theft.
To avoid any of these scams, consumers should make sure they have filed their taxes and have provided their direct deposit information to the IRS in their latest tax return. Consumers should also check to see if they are qualified to receive a coronavirus stimulus check, and for how much.
Finally, if consumers receive anything that does not seem correct or something they are not expecting, they should ignore it and go directly to the source to verify its legitimacy. There is a possibility it could be a stimulus check scam.
If people have questions regarding stimulus check scams, they are encouraged to contact the Identity Theft Resource Center through the website to live chat with an expert advisor. For those that cannot access the website, call the toll-free hotline (888.400.5530) and leave a message for an advisor. While the advisors are working remotely, there may be a delay in responding but someone will assist you as quickly as possible.
This week’s tip is brought to you by the Identity Theft Resource Center (https://www.idtheftcenter.org/).
Coronavirus Scare Is the Perfect Cover for Fraudsters
The coronavirus—or COVID-19—has health care experts scrambling, and has caused global concern for health and well-being due to its rapid spread throughout many countries, including the United States.
A scare like this is the perfect opportunity for scammers and fraudsters to prey on well-intentioned people. Unfortunately, during this global health care concern, criminals are using the scare to execute scams and frauds in the name of providing information or products to ward off the risk of contracting COVID-19. It has become so widespread that the Michigan Attorney General recently issued a warning to consumers to be wary and protect themselves against frauds related to coronavirus.
In the warning, the AG explained that fake social media posts and online articles as well as emails with malicious links are being used to obtain personal information from individuals or to obtain credentials or implant malware onto unsuspecting users’ computers. In addition, the fake articles might allege that someone in the neighborhood has contracted COVID-19 and ask for monetary donations to support the victim.
Consumers are being warned not to provide any personal information or money through these mechanisms and to be on high alert for these types of fraud. The AG cautions, “Do not fall for these scams. In fact, this is the perfect example of criminals preying on people’s fears. Don’t give a single piece of personal information to anyone reaching out to you regarding coronavirus.”
This tip was shared from the Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Insider blog and is authored by Linn F. Freedman, chair of Robinson+Cole’s Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team.
Note: Your agency/bureau/department/division may have specific requirements – always check your policies and procedures. If you have questions, contact your Privacy Officer.