Consumer Corner Column

Consumer Corner: Watch out for stimulus package scammers

Release Date: Mar 30, 2020

By Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion stimulus package providing emergency assistance to the American people, businesses and health care providers amid the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The package includes a one-time direct cash payment to individuals and families across the country to help them financially weather this crisis. Unfortunately, the bill’s passage has opened up a brand new opportunity for scammers to take advantage of vulnerable people during an emergency situation.

To be clear, the Internal Revenue Service will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. There are no fees or charges associated with receiving the payment. No one from the federal government will call, email or text message you and ask for your Social Security number, bank account information or credit card number. Anyone who does this is a scammer. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the checks will take about three weeks to be sent out for people who have been working and paying taxes since 2018. Anyone calling and telling you they can get the check to you today is a scammer. Our best advice is to not answer calls, emails or text messages from phone numbers or email addresses you do not know. If you do answer a phone call, once you realize it’s not someone you know, just hang up.

The Treasury Department plans to run a public awareness campaign for those who have not filed a tax return for either 2018 or 2019. Information will be posted as it becomes available online on www.irs.gov/coronavirus.

If you’ve been contacted by a scammer impersonating the federal government asking for information relating to the stimulus payment or any other COVID-19 scam, file a complaint with our Consumer Protection Division online on our newly designed form specifically covering COVID-19-related scams and price gouging at www.ag.ks.gov. You can also call (800) 432-2310 to request a paper complaint form be sent by mail.

More information on how to protect yourself from these and other scams is available on our consumer protection website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org

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