In late December 2020, former President Donald Trump signed the $900 billion pandemic relief package, which provided $600 stimulus checks to those who are making less than $75,000 (or $150,000 for those who are married and filed jointly). This was in response to the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations act of 2021 to provide for those who have been impacted significantly due to COVID-19. However, since this act has passed, scammers have been taking advantage of their victims’ bank accounts with second stimulus check scams. It is important for Americans to learn how to protect themselves from scammers now so that they can protect themselves in the future. It is possible that there will be a third $1.9 trillion economic rescue package, which is currently being worked on by President Joe Biden.
More Information on the Second Stimulus Check
If you are making less than $75,000, then you will receive a $600 stimulus check. If you filed married-jointly and are making less than $150,000 then you will receive a joint check for $1200. If you make over these amounts, then your check will decrease 5% for each dollar over the income limits. If you make over $87,000 (or $174,000 for those who are married and filed jointly) then you will not receive a second stimulus check.
Many people should’ve already received their stimulus check by direct deposit. However, if you didn’t don’t stress out just yet. Many people are also receiving paper checks and debit cards that should be on their way. If you are concerned, you can also check the status of your stimulus check through the IRS website.
A Predicted Rise in Scams Due to the Second Stimulus Check
Currently, according to the FTC, victims have lost $321 million dollars due to COVID-19 scams, which include stimulus check scams. Among these victims, there have been 340,668 reports filed for coronavirus scams.
Since scammers come up with clever tricks to get their hands on your money, many times they will pose as government officials to trick you out of your stimulus check. Other times, they will create fake websites that look like a stimulus check tracking website. According to Fortune, there were over 150,000 suspicious website domains created when the first stimulus check came out back in April. This caused the number of fake websites to increase by over 235% during the coronavirus pandemic.
Because scammers are so clever, it is predicted that there will be a rise in scams due to the passing of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations act of 2021. To make sure that you will not be scammed, it is important to be updated on the types of second stimulus check scams to watch out for.
Types of Second Stimulus Check Scams to Watch Out For
Scammers will call you and pretend to be a government official. They might call for a variety of reasons to try and get their hands on your stimulus checks. Some will lie and state that you need to pay an up-front fee in order to receive your stimulus check.
Other times, they will lie and say that they need to “verify” your personal and financial information. In reality, they want to commit identity fraud with your information and drain your bank accounts. Either way, keep in mind that the government will not call you regarding your stimulus check.
Phishing Emails and Text/Instant Messages
Scammers will send you a phishing email, text message, or instant message on social media claiming that they are the government. There are a variety of messages and emails that are sent out to these victims, trying to steal their personal and financial information.
An example of one of these emails might be to click on a link to “verify” your information in order to receive your stimulus check. Another example might be to click on a link via text message to fill out an application to receive your check.
Any message or email that resembles the above examples needs to be ignored because if you click on one of those links, it will take you to a fake website. These fake websites will download malware onto your device and will steal any information stored on your device.
Fake websites also contain fake forms for victims to fill out, meaning that any personal or financial information put on these forms will be stolen by scammers.
Phony Checks Sent in the Mail
Scammers will mail fake checks to your house that look exactly like the official government-issued paper stimulus checks. Once you deposit them, a scammer pretending to be the government will text you asking to give them back some of the money since they sent you too much money by mistake.
However, once you send back some of the money, your bank calls you letting you know that the check was fake and you now owe all the money back to the bank.
How to Avoid Second Stimulus Check Scams
- Don’t give out your personal or financial information to anyone claiming they need it to give you your stimulus checks. The government already has your information on file and will automatically give you your stimulus check via direct deposit or paper check.
- Report any scam to the FTC and forward any email or text messages that you have to them. If you have a phishing email, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a phishing text message, forward it to SPAM (7726). To report the scam to the FTC, click here.
- Make sure the check is legit before depositing it into your bank. You can do this by doing your research to make sure that the government agency or organization is legit, by asking the bank to verify that the check is real before depositing it, and by not giving any portion of your check to anyone that asks for it. If someone is asking for a portion of your money claiming that they sent too much, notify your bank immediately and give them back the funds.
- “A bank can look at certain features of the check and can verify your check is real by checking a government-official website to confirm government-issued checks”, an employee of Union Bank states.
- If you suspect a website is fake, report it and get off of the website immediately. You will be able to tell if a website is fake if it doesn’t end in “.gov”.
- Don’t answer phone numbers that you don’t know. Government officials won’t call you regarding your stimulus check. If someone is calling you about your stimulus check, they are probably a scammer and you should not give them any of your information.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You!
At Social Catfish, we want to help you verify the identities of those who might seem suspicious to you. If you have their name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image, you can reverse search and see who the suspected person was that you’ve been in contact with if you think you’ve been a victim of second stimulus check scams.