AMERICANS have been warned scammers could try to steal stimulus checks as they start going out from today.
The government has alerted those due to receive a $1,400 check that crooks may try to snag payments using methods including fraud, phishing and seizure.
Scammers may attempt to send out fraudulent checks with instructions to call a number in a bid to get hold of banking details, or use fake emails, text messages and phone calls containing keywords such as "Covid" and "stimulus" to try to gain sensitive information such as passwords.
Stimulus checks are set to be released as soon as today after Joe Biden signed off on $1,400 payments in the latest $1.9trillion Covid relief package.
The IRS confirmed in a statement on Friday that the agency would begin sending checks to eligible Americans by direct deposit this weekend.
"Following approval of the American Rescue Plan Act, the first batch of payments will be sent by direct deposit, which some recipients will start receiving as early as this weekend, and with more receiving this coming week," the statement said.
Some Americans took to social media on Friday to share that they had already received their checks, after President Biden said he was "laser focused" on getting the money out.
WAYS FRAUDSTERS MAY TRY TO STEAL CHECKS
THE US Department of the Treasury has listed some of the most common ways fraudsters may try to stimulus check in a recent advisory. These include:
- Fraudulent checks – Scammers send fraudulent checks with instruction to call a number or verify information line in order to cash the fake check. The victim is then asked for personal details, such as banking information, which the scammer then uses to commit crimes such as identity theft.
- Phishing – Fraudsters send out emails, letters, text messages and phone calls containing key words such as "Covid" and "stimulus" in order to gain details such as accounts numbers and passwords.
- Counterfeit checks – Scammers may deposit counterfeit checks often via ATM or mobile device. These will have irregularities such as coloring and font.
- Inappropriate seizure of payments – A private company that controls a person's finances may seize check and not return it.
Prior to Biden signing the stimulus bill into law on Thursday afternoon, White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese told CNN's New Day that the administration was dedicated to pushing the legislation through and getting money out to Americans in need as soon as possible.
"We are now laser-focused on the question of how to implement this bill quickly and effectively so that the resources get out to those Americans who need it – including those direct payments," he said.
The bill was signed just one day after it passed through the House at 220 to 211 votes on Wednesday.
Before giving the final sign-off on Thursday, Biden said, "this historic legislation is about a fighting chance" for Americans.
"Tonight, and the next couple of days, I'll be able to take your questions," he told reporters. "But in the meantime, what I'm going to do is sign this bill and make the presentation tonight.
"Then there will be plenty of opportunities to be on the road not only talking about what I'm talking about tonight, which is the impact [of] the virus and how to end this pandemic.
"We're going to talk about all the elements of the bill beginning Friday, Saturday, and all through the week. So, thank you for being here."
Biden's name will not appear on this third round of stimulus checks, as former President Donald Trump's did on the previous checks. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said this is in order to "expedite the payments and not delay them."
The latest round of checks will be sent out in full to Americans who make up to $75,000 and married couples who make up to $150,000 a year.
This round will phase out at a lower adjusted gross income (AGI) limit than previous checks, with individuals who make more than $80,000 and couples who make more than $160,000 getting no payment at all.
For the two previous checks, the income cap was set at $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for couples.
The bill did loosen restrictions on dependents from previous bills, however.
A qualifying family of four could get checks of up to $5,600 with the American Rescue Plan.
By Monday, eligible Americans should be able to check the IRS's "Get My Payment" tool online to check the status of their stimulus check.
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