Stimulus Checks Arriving This Week, Watch for Scam Artists

Thanks to the recent passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES), the U.S. Department of  Treasury announced 80 million people should receive their money this week. 

According to Bob Pabasco, Director of the Tax Clinic at Texas A&M University, most of these payments will go to those who claimed a refund in 2018 or 2019 or Social Security beneficiaries who had money deposited into their bank account.  For those who are planning to receive a check by mail, you may have to wait much longer.  The good news for those who already have their information on file with the IRS from a 2018 or 2019 refund, they should get their money deposited by April 15th.  Those who receive social security benefits should receive their money about the same time.

According to Market Watch, for the 16.8 million people who are now out of a job, this stimulus check couldn't come at a better time.  People are using their money for different things from paying rent, buying groceries or possibly paying a car loan.  

Those who earn up to $75,000 and have social security number will receive $1,200.  If married, couples should receive $2,400 if their adjusted gross income is under $150,000 and $500.00 for each qualifying child.  

If you would like to track your stimulus check,  the IRS just launched a tracking tool “Get My Payment to track the status of your COVID-19 check. You will have to include your social security number, date of birth, and mailing address to access this tool.  If you don't have your direct deposit information already setup with the IRS, you can use this tool to do that as well.  No matter how you receive your stimulus money, the IRS will send you a mailed letter to your address 15 days after they send your payment.

The good news for older adults and many others, there is no filing action needed to receive your check.  However, when money is flowing, the first thing we need to do is understand there will be people working around the clock to steal your money.  Take extra precaution to watch out for the fraudsters who will be preying on older Americans.  

Senior citizens will be prime targets of payment theft. With payments hitting bank accounts this week, the vultures will be circling and planning to use their unscrupulous identity theft tactics, scams and even looking inside of your mailbox for a check.  Donna Parent, Chief Marketing Officer at Sontiq, a company specializing in identity theft told Bloomberg

'Right now, due to how vulnerable the population is, it's really prime picking for fraudsters to come out in full force. The Federal Trade Commission is reporting more than $13 million in fraud loss due to COVID-19 and that's only going to exponentially increase with stimulus payment scams.”

U.S. Senator Charles Glassley understands quite well the vulnerable nature of our country during these times. On April 6th, 2020, he wrote a letter to the Inspector General for Tax Administration asking for his help in educating the public about how the fraudsters will use cleaver schemes to defraud hardworking Americans.  The scammers contact the public impersonating the IRS or Department of Treasury offering COVID-19 assistance which typically requires revealing personal financial information. Once the fraudster has key personal information they are able to steal from their victims. 

It is so easy for our elderly population to fall victim to this fraudulent activity, so now more than ever we need to stay close to our older adults to protect them from fraud.  With the coronavirus confining seniors to their homes in an effort to stay healthy, older adults are using technology more than ever before.  The IRS Criminal Investigations teams are working tirelessly to combat the Stimulus scam artists, but we most all pitch in to keep a watchful eye out for criminals.


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