SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today issued an alert warning consumers to beware of scams related to the federal government’s economic impact stimulus payments. Many people will be receiving a payment from the federal government to help with the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has begun issuing these stimulus payments, and scammers are already trying to take advantage. In today’s alert, Attorney General Becerra provides tips and information to help consumers avoid scams related to their economic stimulus payments.
“As workers and families across the nation reckon with the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the last thing they should worry about is scammers targeting their stimulus checks,” said Attorney General Becerra. “I urge all Californians to review the tips and information provided in this consumer alert to protect themselves against bad actors who aim to enrich themselves by stealing these crucial stimulus payments.”
The tips below are designed to help prevent you and your loved ones from being scammed:
- Check with the IRS to see how much you will receive in your economic impact stimulus payment. While some people with a high income will not receive any money, many people will receive a payment of $1,200 per person, with additional funding for those with children. To see how much you should receive, you can go to the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center.
- You don’t need to pay any money to get your payment. If someone is asking you for money, they are scammers.
- Don’t provide your personal information to anyone except the IRS. Most people won’t need to take any action to receive these payments because the IRS already has the information needed to make a direct deposit into their checking account or to send them a check. For most taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2018 and 2019 and most seniors and retirees, the IRS already has the required information. If you did not file taxes, you can provide your information directly on the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments. Do not provide anyone else with your personal information, such as your bank account information, Social Security number, or credit card information.
- Submit any necessary information on the IRS website as soon as possible to prevent scammers from trying to claim your money. If you receive an error message saying that the information has already been submitted, you should report this potential fraud by contacting the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report.shtml.
- Don’t be fooled by scammers who say they can speed up your payment. The IRS stated that the first economic impact payments were made by direct deposit on Saturday, April 11, but these payments could take weeks or months to arrive. Payments by check will likely take longer. It may take 20 weeks or more for everyone to receive their paper checks, with lower-income individuals expected to receive payment first. Be aware that anyone who claims they can get you your money quicker is a scammer. The only way to speed up your payment is for those who are scheduled to receive payment by check to switch to direct deposit. This can be done at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments and will not cost any money. Do not pay any third parties who claim they will get you your money faster.
- Don’t be fooled by scammers pretending to be the IRS or U.S. Treasury employees. The IRS will not contact you by text, email, or phone. Do not share personal information with anyone who is contacting you this way, even if they claim to be with the government. Be aware that scammers can replicate or “spoof” the phone number of a government agency. If you get a call, hang up the phone. Scammers may also send you phishing emails that are made to look like government emails or websites. Do not click on any links from suspicious emails. About 15 days after payment has been provided, the IRS will notify you by mail at your last-known mailing address.
- Look out for scams involving official-looking fake checks. Scammers might send you an official-looking fake check asking you to verify it online or to correct an “overpayment” by sending back money in cash, money order, or by gift card. A government agency will never request payment by gift card.
For updates related to economic impact payments, the IRS recommends visiting their website at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus. Additionally, you can find more consumer tips and resources at oag.ca.gov/COVID-19. Anyone who has been the victim of a scam, price gouging, or other illegal activity should immediately file a complaint with the California Attorney General at http://oag.ca.gov/report.