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Stimulus payments are coming, so scammers could be coming for your money

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If you haven’t already received a direct payment from the Internal Revenue Service, it might be headed to your bank account or mailbox soon. But that means you should be on the alert for scammers, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody warns.

Anytime a government benefit or program rolls out, scammers will try to exploit the situation for their own benefit, Moody said.

“With many Americans set to receive direct payments from the federal government, we expect scammers will devise schemes to exploit the massive spending to trick recipients into parting with personal or financial information,” Moody said. “Be smart. Seek out trusted sources of information about when your payment will be received and never respond to solicitations asking you to provide personal information or payment to receive a stimulus check.”

Floridians expecting stimulus payments should know:

  • The IRS will never call a consumer directly, nor will the IRS send unsolicited emails, texts or social media messages;
  • Recipients will not be required to make a purchase to receive a stimulus check;
  • Offers advertising expedited delivery of the stimulus payment for a fee are suspicious and can be scams; and
  • Solicitations asking receivers to click a link or provide sensitive information are probably scams.

Some common signs of scams include:

  • Unsolicited calls or emails;
  • High-pressure tactics or too-good-to-be-true offers;
  • Threats of loss if immediate action is not taken; and
  • Requests for immediate payment by wire transfer, credit, prepaid debit or gift cards.

Last December, to highlight potential stimulus payment and COVID-19 related scams, and provide resources for Floridians to share with loved ones, Moody’s Scams at Glance program released two new downloadable brochures detailing information about how to spot common COVID-19 and stimulus scams to stop fraud in its tracks. The brochures are printable and available in both English and Spanish.

To view Scams at a Glance: Stimulus Payments in English, click here.

To view Scams at a Glance: Stimulus Payments in Spanish, click here.

To view Scams at a Glance: Coronavirus Scams in English, click here.

To view Scams at a Glance: Coronavirus Scams in Spanish, click here.

Moody launched the Scams at a Glance webpage in July 2020 to offer Floridians an online outreach program as the state and nation began to see a rise in scams brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The webpage is designed to provide consumers with information on how to spot and avoid falling victim to fraud. To access Moody’s Scams at a Glance webpage, click here.

Moody has issued more than 30 Consumer Alerts with information about emerging scams and tips to avoid fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic. To view the latest alerts and to stay up to date on COVID-19 related scams, visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Alert webpage by clicking here.

To report fraud or file a complaint, visit MyFloridaLegal.com or call 1(866) 9NO-SCAM. For additional COVID-19 tips and resources, click here.

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.