Coronavirus Economic Impact Payments & Ongoing Scam

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The news about the government stimulus checks for individuals to get through the self-isolation and business hiatus was released over a week ago. The Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, estimated the checks would be issued sometime in mid-April. As of today, there is still relatively little details on the progress of this stimulus.

Some of the things we know:

  • The IRS wants to issue the payments via direct deposit; if you never provided your banking information to the IRS, there will be an opportunity to do that by mid-April as the agency is working on a portal to input that information; all other tax payers will receive a check.
  • Payments will be issued automatically and there is no need to act to be considered for the stimulus; eligibility is determined on individual or household income.
  • Social Security beneficiaries who typically do not file tax returns, do not have to do anything to qualify for the stimulus; it will be deposited to their accounts just like a monthly benefit.
  • There is a section of the population that isn’t required to file tax returns (i.e. people with low-income); in order to receive the stimulus, they will have to file a simple tax return; this action is intended to provide information to the government where to deposit the funds.

Watch out for the stimulus check scam

Pandemic or not, scammers are unscrupulous. There are already reports of phishing attempts via email, social media, phone calls or text messages. Remember, the IRS will never reach out to you to confirm any of your financial information. Anything to the contrary is highly suspicious.

The IRS warns to be wary of the following situations:

  • You may receive a check that resembles the one from the IRS, but is in unusual amount or very different from what you may expect. The scammers will ask you to call a number to confirm your financial information in order to complete a deposit.
  • Getting a call from someone claiming to work on taxpayer’s behalf and promising to speed up the process of receiving the stimulus payment. Checks will roughly be issued at the same time and no one can realistically influence that.
  • Do not sign over the check to anyone.

Many are already struggling financially and dealing with the job losses, physical and emotional hardships brought upon us by the virus. But the payments are on the way; the IRS is just a couple of weeks away from issuing them. Be patient and stay safe!

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