Coronavirus Stimulus Scams
Fraudsters are trying to use the Coronavirus Stimulus for their scams!
Tips for Protecting Yourself:
- There is no fee to get your stimulus money or to apply for a government grant
- Do not give out any of your personal information to anyone over the phone, if they call you. (We will only verify personal information when you call us. The only phone number for Chocolate Bayou is (281) 331-2253.)
- Government agencies will not contact you through social media pages, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
- Beware of fake Government agencies. You can find a list of all U.S. federal grant-making agencies here: http://www.grants.gov
The IRS reminds taxpayers that scammers may:
- Emphasize the words “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” The official term is economic impact payment.
- Ask the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
- Ask by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information saying that the information is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact payment.
- Suggest that they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer’s behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.
- Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it. Source
Beware, if the person you are emotionally involved with online requests financial help! Romance Scams have cost over $100 Million in losses and will continue to grow if we aren’t vigilant about the scams going around.
What is a Romance Scam?
A Romance Scam is when a scammer fakes a relationship with their target to get personal information and/or money. The scammers will seduce the victim and form a seemingly perfect relationship. After they have formed a relationship, they will say they need help and ask you for money, credit card information, banking information, etc. This is not exclusive to dating sites; scammers will target you through social media, email, Craigslist, and many more websites!
- The scammers will profess strong feelings for you in a short time period
- Their profile will not match information they tell you (ex: They say they have an English degree, but don’t use proper grammar)
- After gaining your trust, they tell you an elaborate story and ask for money
- Their messages are usually poorly written and vague
- If you don’t agree to send money, then their messages become desperate
How to Protect Yourself:
- NEVER send money to someone you have not met in person!
- NEVER give someone your banking information, such as your online/mobile banking information, credit/debit card information, and social security number.
- Be alert to inconsistencies in their stories
- Use an image search engine on their profile to ensure they are who they say they are
- Be cautious about sending personal pictures or videos (they can blackmail you, if you send compromising photos)
- Never transfer money for someone else (money laundering is illegal)
Craigslist and Angie’s List Scams
- Someone “hires” you and sends you a large cashier’s check via FedEx or other overnight delivery service, and they are asking you to deposit the check and send some of the money back in the form of a money order, gift card (they ask you to give the gift card numbers by phone), or cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin). You have not even done any work for them! That is a scam!
- Someone approaches you via social media telling you about a way to “make quick money” (High School & College students are mostly targeted this way)
- You haven’t actually performed the job you signed up for before they send you money. (Often the “job” is personal assistant to a CEO or affluent person, car wrap companies, mystery shopping, etc.
How to Protect Yourself:
- DO NOT give out banking or account login information
- Ask your credit union to verify the check received for validity
- Verify with the company via a phone call that they are actually hiring for any particular position (Google for the phone number)
- Only connect to secure WiFi networks – think hotels and cafés
What to do if you feel you might be a victim:
- Monitor your account for unusual activity
- Don’t spend funds deposited to your account
- Close your account immediately, if personal banking information has been given out (account number, mobile banking login, home banking login, etc.)
- Contact the hosting website and report the scammer