With another round of COVID-19 stimulus checks on the way to select Americans, the Better Business Bureau warned consumers Tuesday of a potential increase in scams.
The BBB Scam Tracker received several reports of scammers reaching out to people through text message, email and phone calls concerning their coronavirus stimulus checks during the last round of aid. BBB officials said similar scams could happen again.
“Consumer should watch out for an email or text messages instructing them to click a link to 'request benefit payments.' The link connects to an application prompting the entering of personal information in order to "make sure you are getting all the payments owed to you," CEO of the Better Business Bureau for Chicago and northern Illinois Steve Bernas said.
The application is a way for scammers to gather consumers' personal information and commit identify theft, BBB warned.
Here are tips from the BBB to avoid being a victim of a stimulus scam:
- Watch for fake checks as many scammers pretend to be from the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service
- U.S. government workers will not ask for personal financial information over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media platform. Do not click a link in a social media direct message because it could lead to a site that takes personal information
- Never give your Social Security number unless through an approved government portal. BBB said the Social Security Administration received over 450,000 complaints last year of scammers asking consumers for their number
- All email communication from the Small Business Administration will come from accounts ending with sba.gov
- Some scammers promise to deliver money quickly to bank accounts for a small fee, but it is false. The stimulus check will be sent directly to your account
- Lenders can offer to provide a cash advance on stimulus money, but you would pay a high-interest rate which can add up and ultimately costing more
To spot a scam, the BBB warned to stay calm, do not reply directly to the message, check for similar government agencies and do not pay any money.
Should you be the victim to a scam or attempted scam you can report to the BBB's Scam Tracker here.