Several variations of phishing e-mails are being sent to users pertaining to COVID stimulus check scams. These scams can come in ANY form – ranging from email, text, social media, phone call, etc. Unfortunately, no one is off limits for scammers – Not even churches, church workers, and church attendees.
A common variation of the scam consists of users receiving a link to ‘request benefit payments.’ The link then connects to an application prompting the entering of personal information in order to get all the payments they are owned. If you enter this information, it goes right to the attacker and they have stolen it. Negative consequences ranging from identity theft to financial loss can result.
Here are some tips to spot these types of scams:
- 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.
In many cases, being able to recognize a scam is the only way to avoid it.