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Security & privacy

More pandemic checks coming – Don’t be fooled by bogus emails

With plenty of scams to go around, cybercriminals are tapping into news events to formulate new tactics. Just like the emails copying the events around the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, criminals are using the nationwide American Rescue Plan Act as bait, and thousands are being scammed.

The U.S. government is continuing to support Americans with financial help due to the pandemic, and the latest round of support will be mailed out next month. These payments are different from the previous stimulus checks, as these are advances of the child tax credit.

The IRS will send the funds directly, and scammers are already coming up with ways to get their hands on your money. Keep reading to find out how they are targeting your finances.

Here’s the backstory

With payments going out soon, scammers are ready to trick and confuse recipients. They are always after your money and can also launch attacks to steal personal information. Sending out bogus emails disguised as IRS correspondence, cybercriminals hope that you will click on a malicious link. Or flat-out scammed.

They might even be as brazen as calling potential victims, urging them to give out personal information over the phone. This is usually done to “verify” the resident or recipient of the checks but is nothing more than nefarious.

“When money from the government is in the news, we know scammers are about to run their standard playbook. They may call, email, text, or DM you. They’ll say they can help you get your payments earlier (they can’t), get you more money (also no), or tell you other lies (for sure),” warns the Federal Trade Commission.

What you can do about it

The IRS is in the process of establishing an online portal where you can go to verify information. This includes how much you’ll be paid, and when it’s arriving. The IRS is also the only agency in direct contact with you, and anybody else claiming otherwise could be a criminal.

The FTC has some advice on how to deal with the incoming checks and possible scammers that will inevitably follow:

  • Only the IRS will be sending these payments. Anyone trying to “help” you get your child tax credit is really after your money.
  • The government will NEVER call, text, email, or DM you out of the blue, asking for money or information. Keep your money — and your Social Security, bank account, debit, and credit card numbers — to yourself.
  • Nobody legit will ever demand that you pay by gift card, wire transfer through companies like Money Gram or Western Union, or cryptocurrency. That’s a scam every time.

If you have been scammed in the past or know that someone is trying to scam you now, report it to the FTC by navigating to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Keep reading

These fake apps are stealing money from first-time cryptocurrency buyers

Stimulus check missing? Here’s how to report it to the IRS

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