The FBI, state attorneys-general, and security agencies are warning Americans that scammers are targeting the $1,200 COVID-19 stimulus package promised them by the federal government. Thousands of Americans have begun to receive requests for their PayPal ids, bank accounts, emails, phone texts and calls, and other personal or financial information in order to receive direct deposits of the $1,200. The authorities said such requests are illegitimate and from professional scammers.
Many people report that these phony requests appear very official. But Michigan Attorney-General Dana Nessel and New York Attorney-General Letitia James among other states attorneys-generals warn Americans to never fall for the phishing scams. Some of the scammers ask people to pay some fee upfront in order to receive the coronavirus relief aid or expedite a federal loan.
“If someone claims to be from the government with a check for you, it may be a phishing scam that is illegally trying to obtain your bank account or other personal information,” New York Attorney-General Letitia James said. “Do not pay anyone who promises that they can expedite or obtain payment or a loan for you. If you are eligible for relief, you will not need to make any up-front payment or pay any fee to receive a stimulus payment.”
In the “urgent consumer alert” posted by Michigan Attorney-General Dana Nessel, she warned that no one needs to pay any fees to anyone before they are qualified to receive the government’s economic aid. She warned people to ignore or delete any SMS or emails asking for personal information to receive the federal relief, and never to click on links since these could install malware on computers.
According to the Tax Policy Center, more than 150 million American families will receive part or full payments when the time is ready. And the payments could be ready within the next three weeks. The payment will be automatically processed by the Internal Revenue Service using people’s 2019 or 2018 tax returns. No one needs to sign up or do anything to collect the money and the IRS will process it via direct deposits or checks.
Each taxpayer with an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 and a Social Security Number will receive the $1,200 and eligible couples will collect a combined $2,400. Those having children under the age of 17 will collect an additional $500 per child. People with incomes above $99,000 will not be qualified to collect any economic stimulus benefits, and $5 will be deducted for every $100 where a taxpayer’s income exceeds the threshold.
“This is true even for those who have no income, as well as those whose income comes entirely from non-taxable means-tested benefit programs, such as SSI benefits,” the US Senate promised.
The IRS said people who file their tax returns electronically will likely receive their money via direct deposit first in three weeks’ time, and those who file via paper will receive their money later. Paper checks may take longer to mail out to people. The tax agency said people should only call if they do not receive notification emails and their money fails to arrive 15 days after the payment is sent out.