Attorney general: Watch for relief check scams
Be wary of scammers taking advantage of the coming $600 federal relief payments, says Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.
Scammers will try to obtain your personal or bank information to steal your money, Herring said in a Monday press release.
“Just remember that no action should be required on your part in order to receive the assistance,” Herring said. “It should either be directly deposited into your bank account, or mailed directly to your house. If you get a call, email, text, or other communication asking for personal or bank account information, hang up, delete the message, and don’t provide any information because it’s probably a scam.”
If you receive an email, text or phone call about these stimulus checks from someone purporting to be with the government, do not give them personal information. These phishing scams will likely ask for things like bank account information under the guise of direct depositing money from the stimulus package into your bank account. Also, remember that the government will not ask you to pay any money up front to get a stimulus check.
• Don’t give the caller any of your financial or other personal information, including your bank account, credit card or Social Security number, unless you know exactly who you're dealing with. Scammers can use your information to commit identity theft. If you get a call about a debt that may be legitimate — but you think the collector may not be — contact the company to which the caller claims you owe money to inquire about the call.
• Scammers use official-sounding names, titles and organizations to make you trust them. To make the call seem legitimate, scammers also use internet technology to disguise their area code or generate a fake name on caller ID. So even though it may look like they’re calling locally or somewhere in the United States, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
• Never wire money or send cash or a pre-paid card. These transactions are just like sending someone cash. Once your money is gone, you can’t trace it or get it back.
• Join the National Do Not Call Registry and don’t answer numbers you don’t know. This won’t stop scammers from calling, but it should make you skeptical of calls you get from out of the blue. Most legitimate sales people generally honor the Do Not Call list. Scammers ignore it. Putting your number on the list helps to “screen” your calls for legitimacy and reduce the number of legitimate telemarketing calls you get.
If you think you have been a victim of a scam, reach out to the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Section:
• By phone: 800/552-9963.
• By email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Use the online complaint form at https://www.oag.state.va.us/consumer-protection/index.php/file-a-complaint.
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