Since the coronavirus (COVID-19) made its way to the United States, millions have lost their jobs, businesses have shut down temporarily (some of the permanently), and even some of the household names like “JC Penny” and “Gold’s Gym” have been hit hard by the recession that’s followed the pandemic. Be it unemployment, desperation, or just preying on the innocent, but the pandemic has unleashed a slew of fraudsters trying to capitalize on the situation.
Whenever there’s a crisis, two types of people will emerge. Those who want to do whatever they can to help, such as donate money, volunteer, or cook meals. And then, those folks who will try to make a quick buck because of other people’s misfortune. Fortunately, you’ll see more of the first group, but that doesn’t mean you want to put your guard down! As things change on a daily basis due to COVID-19, it’s important to be aware of coronavirus relief scams.
Signs of a Coronavirus Relief Scam
Most Georgians have benefited from the $2 trillion coronavirus relief and stimulus plan known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). The Act is the reason behind the $1,200 stimulus checks sent to individuals and the $2,400 stimulus checks for married couples. Since so many people were expected to receive their stimulus checks, fraudsters jumped on the opportunity to launch a variety of scams meant to mislead people.
A lot of these scams look and sound the same, here’s what to watch out for:
- Someone claiming they can help you get your stimulus check faster.
- Someone saying they’re the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) calling. These agencies do not call people asking for their personal information!
- Someone telling you to pay a fee to get your relief check.
We are only scratching the surface as to the number of scams out there. To learn more, we recommend reading AARP’s article, “Coronavirus Scams Spread as Fraudsters Follow the Headlines.”