KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Stimulus checks are expected to hit bank accounts beginning in mid-April, and scammers are preparing to take advantage of the cash flow.
"This time it's the headlines that proclaim $2 trillion dollars in additional money flowing from the federal government and millions upon millions of individual Americans receiving payments or checks, and, of course, bad guys see opportunity in that," Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.
"If somebody's contacting you now or in the next few weeks promising assistance, saying they can speed up your payment or your refund, saying that they're from the IRS and they've had a glitch, and they need account information or otherwise, it's a scam," Schmidt said.
Scammers may contact you via phone, text or email. Clicking on any links or attachments could result in malware on your device.
The IRS warns scammers may:
- Emphasize "stimulus check" or "stimulus payment," but the official term is "economic impact payment"
- Ask you to sign the check over to them
- Ask for verification of personal or banking information needed to receive the payment
- Suggest they can get the payment to you faster by working on your behalf
- Mail a bogus check then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online to cash it
Keep in mind that the money will flow in the exact same manner as your tax refund, either by direct deposit or a check in the mail.
Most taxpayers, including those who filed returns in 2018 and 2019 as well as most seniors and retirees, will not need to take any action to receive their payments.
Still, with so many unknowns and so many people impacted, scammers are finding themselves with a wider range of targets.
"There are more people out of work, people working from home," Schmidt said. "They're worried about their kids, they're worried about their elder friends or loved ones, and all of those things can create the type of uncertainty that is the perfect environment for the crooks and the fraudsters to try to prey."