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FTC Warns About New Economic Impact Payment Scams

With the president’s signature on December 27, H.R. 133 provides $900 billion in coronavirus relief for millions of Americans. That money funds a number of targeted programs, like extended unemployment benefits and additional Paycheck Protection Program loans. Those programs are undoubtedly important parts of the economic recovery package, but the most heavily advertised part of the legislation are the $600 direct payments.

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service pointed out in press releases that most eligible Americans won’t have to do anything to receive a payment—and the majority will receive them via direct deposit. Despite this fact, many eligible recipients may still be confused about the process. That uncertainty is where phishing scammers thrive.

The Federal Trade Commission is warning Americans to be on the lookout for phishing phone calls, text messages, and emails in the coming weeks. They note that the first Economic Impact Payments were accompanied by a raft of scams that evolved throughout the year, and there’s no reason to think that this round will be any different.

To help everyone avoid falling victim to new phishing scams, the FTC put together a list of things the government will not do:

  1. The government won’t ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  2. The government won’t call, text, email, or contact you on social media to ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  3. There’s no such thing as getting your money early, or faster. Anyone who says they can hook you up now (or soon) is both lying and a scammer.

If you do encounter something that seems suspicious, be sure to report it to the authorities. The FTC blog provided a link for their agency, and—as always—you can report tax-related phishing scams to the IRS.

Both of these sites contain information about reporting suspected phishing:

  • ReportFraud.FTC.gov
  • IRS.gov/Privacy-Disclosure/Report-Phishing

Be careful out there, and have a happy New Year!

Source: More money from the government?

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