Action 9: Stimulus checks stimulate scammers

Action 9 has a warning about the federal government checks being sent as relief money for the coronavirus economic storm.

The $1,200 payments are also the prime target for scammers trying to intercept or steal your stimulus checks.

Consumer Investigator Todd Ulrich shows looked into red flag warnings and

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what calls and emails you should never respond to now.

Consumers aren’t the only ones waiting for a federal stimulus check. The bad guys are taking aim at that money too.

“Any time consumers are waiting for money, scammers will be out there to help them part with that money.” said BBB President Holly Salmons.

The Better Business Bureau and other consumer groups expect phishing scams to top the list.

Consumers may get calls, emails, or social media contacts from what appears to be the IRS, asking to verify bank information to deposit their stimulus check.

​Scammers used that tactic to convince Paula Riley to collect a mobile app payment but instead of getting money, they drained her account.

“You thought they were trying to help you?" Ulrich asked.

"I thought so, yes," Riley replied.

"Instead, they were stealing your account?" Ulrich asked.

"Exactly," Riley said.

So avoid any contact that appears to be from the IRS, its scammers trying to access your account.

​Actual stimulus checks won't start arriving until next month, so if one shows up in the mail now, it's a scam. The check could be for thousands more than you expect.

“You're asked to cash the check and send back the overage. If you're receiving a paper check, it should be the amount you expect and no more,” Salmons said.

Scammers could also be sending consumers postcards with passwords to verify direct deposit information. Instead of getting money, they'll drain the victim’s account.

Basically consumers should avoid anyone contacting them about the stimulus check.

“Consumers should keep in mind the same way they get their tax returns is how they should expect to get their. Money,” Salmons said.

Banks, credit unions and government agencies will never call or text asking to identify personal information.

Just remembering that can help consumers avoid stimulus scams.