TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The stimulus payments intended to help during the coronavirus pandemic are coming at a time when many Floridians desperately need them.
They’re also a prime opportunity for scammers, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody warns.
“Two trillion dollars are being pumped into the U.S. economy as millions of Americans are losing jobs. Commerce has drastically slowed in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. Anytime a government offers financial relief to individuals or businesses, scammers will devise schemes to steal as much of it as possible,” Moody said in a news release.
“That is why I am asking Floridians to keep their guard up as the federal government begins to disseminate these individual payments. Stay up to date about how and when you might receive your stimulus payment and be suspicious of anyone requesting personal or financial information in exchange for an expedited deposit.”
People who have already provided their banking information to the IRS as part of filing their taxes will receive the stimulus in a direct deposit and don’t need to take further action. The IRS plans to mail confirmation notices within a few weeks after payments are made.
Anyone who receives a notice but does not receive payment should contact the IRS, Moody says.
However, the IRS will not initiate contact with anyone by email, phone call, text messages or social media to request personal or financial information, the attorney general says, meaning any such requests could likely be scams.
People who aren’t typically required to file taxes and don’t receive Social Security will need to file an abbreviated return to get the payment. The Treasury unveiled an online tool for those non-filers to register to get their check.
Moody released a list of tips telling Floridians to never:
- Respond to text messages, emails or ads directing you to click on a link
- Provide any personal or financial information in response to an unsolicited message;
- Trust caller-ID displays claiming a call is from the IRS — as spoofing technology allows scammers to change phone displays to impersonate government agencies
- Make any advance payment in order to secure or expedite access to a benefit
Moody’s office asks anyone who encounters a coronavirus stimulus package scam or another type of COVID-19 fraud to contact them at 1-866-966-7226 or MyFloridaLegal.com.