$1,200 Stimulus Check Text Messages Are A Scam

Many individuals have recently reported receiving texts with fraudulent messages telling them that they need to click on a link in order to accept their stimulus check payment. If you receive one of these, please don’t on the link, the text is a scam trying to cheat you out of money.

Since March, when the coronavirus pandemic started ravaging the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission has received more than 5,000 complaints from individuals who received fraudulent text messages, according to News10NBC. These unsolicited messages have defrauded Americans out of more than $2 million. This is only a sliver of overall coronavirus related scams. As reported by Forbes earlier this year, the Better Business reported that fraudsters were calling individuals about special coronavirus grants that required them to verify their identity first. Other variations included claims of getting your stimulus check faster if you share personal and financial details and pay a small “processing fee.”

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Dana Starr of Monroe County, New York showed News10NBC the text message she received last week trying to lure her to click on a phony link. “You have a three pending direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND,” the message read. “Further action is required to accept this payment into your account. Continue here to accept this payment,” it ended with a suspicious link to a European website.

Others reported receiving text messages about a second government stimulus check, which does not exist at this point. WATE6 reported on Lynn Courtney and Al Knox who recently received text messages telling them to call a number for assistance about their stimulus check. When Knox called, he was threatened over the phone. “They told me that if I did not give them my Social Security number a warrant would be issued for my arrest,” he told 6WATE. For the record, no one from the actual government will threaten to arrest you.

As many as 12 million Americans haven’t received their stimulus check yet and many be frustrated by the delay and desperately seeking information; however, it is important not to be lulled into thinking that these fraudulent text messages will provide real answers.

How To Avoid Stimulus Check Scams

Here are a few important tips to remember to keep you from falling victim to stimulus check fraudsters:

  1. Don’t Click On Links: Do not click on any links in text messages or e-mails about stimulus checks. Remember that “the IRS won’t contact you by phone, email, text message, or social media with information about your stimulus payment,” according to the Federal Trade Commission. It will also not ask you for your Social Security number, bank account, or government benefits debit card account number.
  2. Check the terminology: Remember that the formal name for a stimulus check is “economic impact payment.” Any communication that is referencing “stimulus checks” or “coronavirus payment” is likely to be a scam.
  3. Never Give Out Information: Never provide personal or financial information in response to a text message or a phone number included in a text message. Only use irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments to submit stimulus-related information to the IRS.
  4. Never Pay Money: You do not need to make any payment to receive your stimulus payment. Individuals claiming they can get you your money faster for a small payment or asking you to pay a fee to receive your stimulus money are scammers.

The Upshot

With many still anxiously waiting for their first stimulus payment, it might be tempting to click on a text message link claiming to have more information on your payment. Please refrain and simply delete the message as it is simply a fraudster trying to steal your money or personal information.

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