BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns that scammers are taking advantage of the news of Congress passing a COVID-19 relief bill that includes another round of stimulus checks for most Americans.
Officials with the BBB say their Scam Tracker program has received reports of con artists claiming that you need to either pay for your stimulus check or provide personal information to receive it.
Experts say you need to watch out for scam calls as the government plans to roll out the second round of stimulus checks.
How the Scam Works
Experts say there are several versions of this scam.
The BBB says consumers have reported being contacted by scammers through text messages, emails, and phone calls about the new COVID-19 stimulus checks.
Officials say you should watch out for any emails or text messages instructing you to click a link to “request benefit payments.”
They say the link will take you to an application, which prompts you to enter information in order to “make sure you are getting all the payments owed to you.” However, the “application” is really a way to phish for personal details and opens you up to the risk of identity theft.
In scams by phone, the scammer pretends to be calling from a government agency. The con artist insists you need to pay money - or “confirm” your personal information - before you can receive your stimulus check. Other times, scammers claim that you can get additional money or even receive your funds immediately.
All you need to do is pay a small “processing fee” through a pre-paid debit card.
- Stay calm. If you receive any of these impostor calls, resisting the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is. Scammers try to get you to act before you have a chance to think.
- Don’t reply directly. Don’t respond to the call, text, or email. If you think the message may be real, find the government agencies’ contact information on their website and contact them directly.
- Check for look-alikes. Be sure to do your research and see if a government agency or organization actually exists. Scammers often make up names of agencies and/or grants.
- Do not pay any money for a “free” government grant or program. If you have to pay money to claim a “free” government grant, it is not really free. A real government agency will not ask you to pay an advanced processing fee. The only official list of all U.S. federal grant-making agencies is Grants.gov.
For More Information
Read more about government grant scams in this BBB tip. For more information about scams in the wake of coronavirus, see BBB.org/Coronavirus.If you’ve been the victim of this or a similar scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report can help educate other consumers by raising awareness of scammers’ tactics.
Click here to report a typo.