Watch out for fraud as stimulus payments deposited, mailed, Florida AG warns

File photo
File photo

Floridians aren’t the only ones excited about the stimulus payments from the federal government that have already started being deposited in bank accounts across the state.

Scammers are ready and willing to take advantage, too.

As the federal government begins delivering additional stimulus payments across the country in the new $166 billion stimulus package, Floridians should be wary of potential fraud related to the economic relief, Attorney General Ashley Moody warned in a video consumer alert.

Floridians are already receiving payments both through direct deposit and mailed checks.

Moody wants to make sure you can spot and avoid scams related to the federal payments.

“As we have seen throughout the pandemic, bad actors are looking for ways to exploit the crisis to steal money, government benefits and people’s identities,” Moody said. “With direct payments already received or on the way to Floridians’ bank accounts, I am asking consumers to remain vigilant in their efforts to identify and avoid scams designed to steal federal payments or personal information. The best way to do this is to stay informed about how and when you will receive your stimulus payment and avoid solicitations requiring personal information, upfront payments or other actions in exchange for federal money.”

The Internal Revenue Service has until Jan. 15 to deliver the payments. For more information and frequently asked questions about direct payments, click here.

To contact the IRS, visit IRS.gov. To track stimulus payments, use the IRS Get My Payment tool by clicking here.

Please remember that the IRS will NOT call or email Floridians about stimulus payments. Spoofing the IRS continues to be a trick used by scammers often through recorded telephone messages or imposter robocalls. Robocalls targeting stimulus recipients could be utilized to exploit this latest round of economic relief.

There are signs these calls may be increasing as Americans continue to work from home.

In April of last year, Moody issued a Consumer Alert addressing this growing problem and highlighted a few recent COVID-19 related recordings. To hear those recordings, click here.

Shortly after passage of the new round of stimulus, Moody issued a new Scams at a Glance brochure with information about common scams designed to steal federal money from Floridians in need and tips for avoiding these scams, which include the following:

  • NEVER respond to text messages, emails or ads directing you to click on a link;
  • NEVER provide any personal or financial information in response to an unsolicited message;
  • NEVER trust caller ID displays claiming a call is from the IRS—as spoofing technology allows scammers to change phone displays to impersonate government agencies; and
  • NEVER make any advance payment in order to secure or expedite access to a benefit.

To download Moody’s Scams at a Glance: Stimulus Payment Scams and other Scams at a Glance brochures, click here.

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