• August 7, 2020

BBB: Scams targeting economic impact payments - Odessa American: BBB Column

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BBB: Scams targeting economic impact payments

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Posted: Sunday, April 12, 2020 6:00 am

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The act aims to provide economic relief to both individuals and small businesses that have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Deposits of economic impact payments into taxpayer bank accounts are scheduled to begin a few weeks after the signing, but scammers are already using CARES to target consumers.

One of the most common scams already being reported to BBB Scam Tracker involves consumers receiving calls from scammers claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. The caller states there is an issue with your Social Security account, and until the issue has been resolved, your economic impact payment will be withheld. Then you are asked to confirm your Social Security number.

Another commonly reported scam shows individuals being reached via text message. The message instructs you to send a payment, generally of $50 or more, in order to receive your stimulus check within 24 – 48 hours. Other variations of the scam include providing your Social Security number to know how much money you’ll receive, or when you’ll receive it.

Your strongest weapon in the fight against scammers is staying informed. That’s why your Better Business Bureau wants you to keep the following information in mind as you await your economic impact payment:

>> No payment or information is required. The IRS will use your 2019 tax information (or 2018 if you have not yet filed for 2019) to calculate and send your payments. No additional action is required on your part, including sending payments or personal information.

>> Simple tax returns are available. For those who do not typically file a tax return, simple tax returns are available to receive the stimulus payments. More information on filing this return is available at IRS.gov/coronavirus.

>> No government agency will call or email you. The SSA has stated they will only contact consumers who have requested to receive a call or already have ongoing business with them. If anyone claiming to be from government agencies, such as the IRS, SSA or U.S. Treasury Department, contacts you via text, email or phone call, do not respond.

>> Know your eligibility. Tax filers who have adjusted gross income levels of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples will receive full payment. Payment is reduced by $5 for each $100 above that threshold. Individuals with income above $99,000 or couples above $198,000 with no children are not eligible.

>> Report scams. If a scammer contacts you, hang up or ignore the message. Report scams to BBB.org/ScamTracker, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov, or the Office of the Inspector General at oig.ssa.gov.

In an uncertain time, many are relying on these payments to ease the unexpected impact of COVID-19. Nobody should have to experience additional hardships during this time due to scams. Your Better Business Bureau is here to guide and protect you. To learn more on economic impact payments, visit us at BBB.org/coronavirus, irs.gov/coronavirus and https://home.treasury.gov/cares.

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