Coronavirus Stimulus Scams Target Taxpayers
No sooner had the U.S. government announced approval of a historic economic support program than reports of scam activity began to surface. Fraudsters have been quick to target taxpayers with scams involving the coronavirus stimulus package.
Some scams attempt to get taxpayers to provide their account numbers under the pretense of direct depositing their stimulus payment for them. Taxpayers should remember these tips:
Government agencies do not communicate to individuals through social media outlets such as Facebook.
Never pay a fee for a government grant. A government agency will never request an advanced processing fee to receive a grant.
Beware of fake government agencies promoted by fraudsters. The only official list of all U.S. federal grant-making agencies can be found at www.grants.gov.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports scams in which individuals are contacted through text messages, social media posts and messages, or phone calls. As a result, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Mutual Group has issued a notification with these warnings:
- One version of the scam targets seniors through a Facebook post informing them that they can get a special grant to help pay medical bills. The link within the post takes them to a bogus website claiming to be a government agency called the ‘U.S. Emergency Grants Federation’ where they are asked to provide their Social Security Number under the guise of needing to verify their identity. In other versions, fraudsters claim individuals can get additional money – up to $150,000 in some cases. The victims are asked to pay a ‘processing fee’ to receive a grant.
- In North Carolina, there are several reports of a coronavirus scam in which potential victims received phone calls. Fraudsters told the victims they qualified for a $1,000 to $14,000 coronavirus stimulus payment; however, they must first pay a processing fee.
- “Coronavirus direct payment will likely be in the form of direct deposits or through U.S. Treasury checks. Fraudsters may look to seize this opportunity to create counterfeit U.S. Treasury checks to use in their scams. Knowing when the stimulus checks will be issued, fraudsters could steal U.S. Treasury checks out of the mail and attempt to cash them at a credit union after opening an account. This was a common occurrence in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy as fraudsters counterfeited and forged U.S. Treasury checks representing the Federal Disaster Assistance checks.”
Cinfed will continue to provide updates regarding coronavirus issues via emails, our website and social media accounts. Our online Security Corner provides additional tips and resources for preventing fraud and identity theft.