It’s tax refund season, baby — but there’s also a buzz around additional government stimulus checks in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic. As Forbes reports on March 30, the Treasury Department and IRS say check distribution is set to begin in roughly three weeks.
This announcement comes amidst the changes and economic turmoil related to COVID-19. But if the announcement just became official, how could some people have received their stimulus checks before it was made?
This announcement comes amidst the changes and economic turmoil related to COVID-19. But if the announcement just became official, how could some people have received their stimulus checks before it was made? Here's how the new scam works.
There’s a stimulus check scam lurking.
The Florida Attorney General is warning everyone to watch out. Recently, Florida resident Thomas Andrews received an envelope in the mail reading "Time-Sensitive Fast-Tracked Mail: Open Immediately." But it wasn’t that line that had him tearing it open right away. It also said “Important COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Document Enclosed.”
"That by itself will probably be enough to get people to open it," Thomas told FOX 35 News.
What’s more, the check — for more than $3,000 — read “Stimulus Relief Program” in the top left corner, with no apparent company name or phone number. There was also an accompanying letter urging the opener to claim their “stimulus incentives” over the next ten days at a “temporary relief site” in Bushnell, Fla.
"The check paper itself is really misleading. Even on the back looking like you just sign the back like any real check,” Thomas shared.
Thomas found it suspect since he knew checks hadn’t yet been issued, and the check was for more money than he would be eligible to receive.
But he took to Facebook to share his experience, saying, “I wanted to post it as soon as I could because I know that some people, like my grandma, would have fallen for stuff like that.”
So where did the fake COVID-19 check come from?
Apparently, the check that Thomas received was connected to a used car lot in Bushnell, Fla., claiming to be a temporary relief site.
It’s the only report of this kind of check so far, but there are other things to watch out for, as Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody explains.
🚨 CONSUMER ALERT 🚨— AG Ashley Moody (@AGAshleyMoody) March 30, 2020
Congress recently passed a $2 TRILLION coronavirus stimulus package, and scammers are trying to exploit this rescue bill to rip off Floridians.
DON’T FALL FOR THEIR TRICKS!
Educate yourself about the legislation and how to avoid scams. pic.twitter.com/DkxAXRgyxi
Here’s the real IRS stimulus check news to know about.
There was a colossal, historic $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that was just passed to provide relief to Americans during this time of crisis. It will “support businesses, rush resources to overburdened health care providers and help struggling families during the deepening coronavirus epidemic.”
In a nutshell, this incentive will automatically provide eligible taxpayers an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples.
Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child. Recipients must have filed returns in 2018 or 2019, and will receive partial to full payment depending on income and filing status.
Luckily, there’s an abundance of legitimate, high-quality information out there on the details of the stimulus bill and avoiding scams of all kinds. Stay alert, and stay informed.