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Dangerous Stimulus Check Scams

Dangerous Stimulus Check Scams

Reports of stimulus payment scams continue to increase as a second stimulus package has passed and a third in the works. With some still trying to claim their stimulus money from the IRS and a drawn-out pandemic, individuals may be more susceptible to fraud than usual.

Since January 2020, Americans have lost over $350 million to COVID-19 and stimulus payment related fraud. The Federal Trade Commission has received over 194,000 complaints with the median fraud loss being over $320.1

Those eligible for stimulus payments will receive their funds in one of three ways: direct deposit into your account, pre-paid payment cards, or paper checks mailed to the address on file with the IRS.

We’ve provided some of the most commonly reported stimulus payment scams and how to stay alert and vigilant against them.

1. Don’t answer unsolicited calls, texts, or emails.

Fraudsters have the ability to spoof phone numbers to look like they are calling from the IRS, Treasury Department, or other state agencies. If you receive a call from one an organization that you think is legitimate, ensure that you initiate a separate means of communication like asking for a return phone number. Someone scamming you is likely to be unwilling to give a return phone number or other means of communication and will demand immediate action.

2. Don’t share sensitive information. 

One of the most common stimulus check scams involves an email, text message, or social media post asking individuals to click a link to “apply” for their stimulus payment. The application will then require sensitive information such as Social Security Number or bank or credit card information. The link is most likely armed with malware to harm your device and the scammer will acquire your personal information through the application.

3. You can’t pay to get your stimulus payment early.

Another common stimulus payment scam involves fraudsters offering expedited stimulus payments to your account in exchange for a processing fee. Remember that there is no way to get your stimulus payment early or quicker and no one needs to pay to receive a stimulus check, period.

4. Be aware of look-alike checks.

Fraudsters have been sending out fraudulent checks representing a stimulus payment check. In addition to your vigilance, Sandia Area staff is trained to be attentive to checks especially of large amounts in order to stop check fraud from occurring.


  1. https://public.tableau.com/profile/federal.trade.commission#!/vizhome/COVID-19andStimulusReports/FraudLosses
  2. https://www.advancedfraudsolutions.com/knowledge-center/four-most-dangerous-stimulus-scams

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