Beware of scammers trying to hijack your stimulus check, AG warns

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
uh oh
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Congress hasn’t even passed the legislation yet, but scammers are already plotting how to get between you and your check from the government.

State attorneys general, including Nevada’s Aaron Ford, are warning people to look out for scammers offering to fast-track checks from the federal economic relief package Congress is expected to approve this week.

In a statement Wednesday, Ford noted the details of how or when the checks — currently expected to be up to $1,200 per individual and $2,400 for joint taxpayers — will be distributed aren’t hammered out yet. Maybe they’ll be mailed, maybe they’ll be direct-deposited. 

“However, scammers are already using the proposed federal stimulus package as an opportunity to prey on Nevadans,” Ford said. “Fraudsters may leave messages by telephone or social media requesting personal or financial information in exchange for so-called immediate stimulus money through a ‘grant.’ Scammers may ask for other information, including Social Security numbers and confirming of identity to receive their funding. In different variations, scammers promise additional financing beyond the designated stimulus amount in exchange for a small payment or personal information.”

Ford’s office released the following tips people should follow to make sure their checks don’t get hijacked:

  • Avoid giving access to your bank account other than those whom you have authorized. Only scammers will demand that you provide them with your personal information, such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, debit and credit cards, or PINs in order to receive stimulus funding;
  • ​Avoid suggestions of paying any amount of money to receive stimulus. There is no “grant” money. You will not be asked to pay any money, including a “processing fee,” to receive a stimulus check;
  • ​Check your mailbox frequently to ward off theft. If your mailbox has a lock, make it accessible to you in the event you receive stimulus funding by a physical check in your mailbox;
  • ​Beware of entering your personal or financial information into phishing websites that appear to look like legitimate government websites; and
  • ​Do not share personal information with any person or website that asks for it related to the federal stimulus package.

The attorney general’s office also reminded Nevadans that if they think they’ve been targeted or taken in by any coronavirus scam, they can file a complaint with the Nevada AG’s office here or contact the office hotline at (888) 434-9989.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.