Stimulus payments have been a hot topic as of late. Not only are we finally getting a second round of stimulus checks, but there’s hope that more money could be on the horizon soon.
While many Americans have already received their $600 payments from the IRS, there are many people waiting for the money to land in their mailboxes. That can be a real issue for people who are out of work and need those funds right away. Looking for work? Tap or click here for a tool that will help you find the right career path.
If you’re still waiting on your stimulus check, don’t lose hope. The money could be on the way. Here’s how you can check the status of your payment — and how to avoid the headache of falling victim to a stimulus-related scam that’s making the rounds.
What to do if you haven’t received your stimulus check
If you were one of the millions who qualified for the second stimulus payment but haven’t received the money yet, there’s still a chance that you’ll get it. The IRS deadline for sending out payments was Jan. 15, which means the last batch of paper checks was sent out late last week. Your money may still be in the mail.
The IRS has a couple of options for tracking your money, including the Get My Payment tool on the IRS website.
You can use Get My Payment tool to:
- Confirm that the IRS sent your second stimulus payment.
- Confirm your payment type: direct deposit or mail.
Using this tool is simple. All you need is some personal information, including your home address and Social Security number. Once you have that information on hand, you’ll simply navigate to the IRS Get My Payment site. You can tap or click here, or visit https://sa.www4.irs.gov/irfof-wmsp/login to log in.
The other option is to ask for a Payment Trace from the IRS. This process is a little more complicated, but it can help you determine whether your paper check is stolen or missing or confirm that a direct deposit was made to the wrong account.
The IRS only wants you to initiate a Payment Trace if you received Notice 1444 or if Get My Payment shows your payment was issued and you have not received it. Before you contact the IRS, make sure you’re within the timeframes below:
- 5 days since the deposit date in Get My Payment and the bank says it hasn’t received it.
- 4 weeks since it was mailed by check to a standard address.
- 6 weeks since it was mailed and you have a forwarding address on file with the local post office.
- 9 weeks since it was mailed and you have a foreign address.
If you fall within these parameters, you can request that the IRS trace your payment.
To start the IRS Payment Trace process:
- Call the IRS at 800-919-9835
- Mail or fax a completed Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund PDF
According to the IRS website, you will generally receive a response 6 weeks after receiving your request for a Payment Trace, but there may be delays due to limited staffing.
Watch out for this scam
Missing payments aren’t the only stimulus-related issue right now. Scams are, too. The FTC is warning people about a stimulus-related scam that’s making the rounds right now.
This scam involves sending fake emails from someone named Joe Simons at the Federal Trade Commission to targets across the nation. The email tells victims that they’re getting coronavirus relief money and even includes a fake certificate to make you think it’s real.
If you reply to this email, the scammers will tell you that you have to pay taxes on the money before it can be sent to you. They may also include a fake letter from the IRS to convince you that what they’re saying is real.
If you pay that money, then you’ll be asked to make another payment — this time to the State Department for a certificate to prove the funds are not related to any terrorist activity and the money is cleared for you to receive.
And, if you fall for that, you’ll then be sent a fake remittance order that shows the money is on the way to your bank account. The money won’t ever be paid to your account, though — and you’ll be out the amounts you sent over for the fake taxes and certificate.
You should take steps to avoid falling victim to this scam, including:
- Ignore emails, calls or texts from supposed government agencies. Government agencies contact you via mail, not email or text. Don’t fall for any emails, texts or calls from government departments.
- Do your homework. If an agency tells you that you’re getting a payment but then asks for money, it’s most likely a scam. Call the actual agency to verify what you’re being told.
- Never pay money for unsolicited funds, and be wary of anyone telling you to pay with a gift card or wire transfer. If someone tells you to pay this way, it’s probably a scam. If you’re asked to pay taxes or other fees for the money you’re owed, that is also a scam.
- Go with your gut. If the situation feels off, it probably is.