BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — New York State Attorney General Letitia James is urging people to be vigilant when it comes to scammers trying to take advantage of the federal stimulus package.
She says her office has already received reports of people trying to steal personal and financial information.
The AG says scammers may use emails, texts, or webpages that look like they are from the federal government.
So beware if someone claims to be from the government with a check for you.
The IRS will send checks through the mail at the beginning of April, or put them in your bank account if you have signed up for direct deposit.
Paper checks will arrive in the mail in four to five weeks.
Attorney General James released the following tips for New Yorkers to protect themselves from these scams:
-Never give your personal information or financial information out to someone unless you are absolutely sure who they are.
-Be alert: scammers may use emails, texts, or webpages that look like they are from the federal government.
-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.
-If you are eligible for a payment, you will receive a payment directly from the IRS.
-Do not pay anyone who promises that they can expedite or obtain a 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. You will not be charged any "processing fees."
-Never open attachments or links sent from anyone who claims to be from the government. Do not reply and delete the message right away.
BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU (BBB) OF UPSTATE NY
The Better Business Bureau is also getting reports through its Scam Tracker of people using the pandemic to steal identities and stimulus checks.
According to Melanie McGovern, Communications Director for the BBB of Upstate NY, scammers are trying to trick people into providing their personal information through the following means:
-Sending text messages saying a individual needs to take a quiz to see if they have coronavirus before they can receive a stimulus check.
-Using calls, emails, and texts promising the stimulus money sooner if a small fee is paid.
-Calling and trying to get people to increase their insurance coverage due to Covid-19.
McGovern said it is important for people to realize that the stimulus money will be sent in the same way that their IRS tax refunds were issued for the 2019 tax year (2018 for some people). People who signed up with the IRS to have direct deposit will get the stimulus money directly into their bank accounts.
For people who are not signed up with the IRS for direct deposit, the stimulus money will be sent through the mail.
The BBB is advising people to keep an eye on their curbside mailboxes. Know when the mailman comes each day, advised McGovern, and be ready for the mail. In some cases, it might be worth having the U.S. Post Office hold the mail for pickup to avoid any theft.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
The Social Security Administration is warning people who receive social security payments or supplemental income payments to beware fake letters and messages being circulated saying those payments will be suspended or decreased unless a specific number is called.
THOSE ARE FALSE AND THE WORK OF SCAMMERS!
The Social Security Administration is not suspending or decreasing any payments due to the Covid-19 public health emergency.
HOW TO REPORT PROBLEMS.
It is important to report any cases of fraud to law enforcement.
NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL - CLICK HERE
THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU - CLICK HERE
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION - CLICK HERE
FBI - CLICK HERE