BBB Serving Western Va. warns people of stimulus check-related scams

BBB Serving Western Va. warns people of stimulus check-related scams
Some Americans may still be waiting for their $1,400 check, and the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Virginia is warning people of some recent scams that have been reported. (Source: wlox)

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced on March 17 that 90 million stimulus checks were distributed to Americans.

Others may still be waiting for their $1,400 check, and the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Virginia is warning people of some recent scams that have been reported.

Julie Wheeler, the President and CEO of the Western Va. branch, said they are informing consumers of phishing emails, where scammers are trying to your private information, which they claim will get you your stimulus payment deposit faster.

These are all scams, Wheeler says. She says sometimes scammers claim there is more money or grants available, or that you can get the stimulus money right away if you pay a small “processing fee” with a pre-paid debit card.

BBB warns to never give your social security number, bank account information or credit card information to someone that contacts you via phone, email or text message.

“If it’s an imposter scam, the name may be off, just one word or a couple of letters,” Wheeler said. “The website they’re taking you to may look authentic, but if you check the actual web address you can see you’re not on the legitimate site.”

In some email or text messages, BBB said messages instruct consumers to click a link to “request benefit payments.” The link connects to an application prompting consumers to enter personal information to “make sure you are getting all the payments owed to you.”

But be careful, this “application” is really a way to phish for personal details and commit identity theft.

BBB provided some tips to spot a Government Imposter Agency scam:

- Stay calm. Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is. Scammers try to get people to act before thinking about the situation.

- Don’t reply directly. Don’t respond to unknown calls, texts, or emails. If you think the message may be real, find the government agencies’ contact information on the internet and contact them directly. Don’t click on links or open attachments.

- Check for look-alikes. Research to see if the government agency or organization that contacted you actually exists. Scammers often make up names of agencies and/or grants.

- Do not pay any money for a “free” government grant or program. It is not really free if there is a fee involved. A real government agency will not ask for an advanced processing fee. Instead, find out if the agency is legitimate by checking grants.gov.

- Paying money does not shorten stimulus payment deposit time.

- Don’t give sensitive personal or financial information to unsolicited calls, texts, or emails. If your bank reaches out to you, they will not ask for confidential information — such as your card PIN, access code, or online banking password.

- You should not have to verify your information to receive payment. Those who do ask you to verify your information are imposters.

If you have any questions about your stimulus payment and its status, use the “Check My Payment” tool on the IRS website.

If you’ve spotted a scam, whether or not you’ve lost money, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams

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