BBB: New scheme targets people eager for federal stimulus money

Money

PROVIDENCE R.I. (WPRI) — The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning people eager to receive their stimulus check about a recent scheme.

Paula Fleming, the BBB’s local chief marketing and sales officer, says scammers know the federal government needs financial information in order to get qualified Americans their payment.

“They need your information right now and the scam artists know that, so that’s where they’re taking advantage of people,” she said.

The BBB has already received hundreds of complaints from people who say they’ve fallen victim to this scheme, according to Fleming.

“When you receive the phone call, scammers pretend to be from a government agency and insist you need to pay money or confirm personal information before you can receive your stimulus check,” Fleming explained.

Fleming also said there is phishing version of the scheme.

“Scammers are using emails and text messages with a link to an application which prompts you to enter information, whether it is personal or financial,” she said, encouraging people not to give out that information.

“Government agencies will not call you and require you to make a payment,” Fleming added.

If you believe you may have fallen victim to this scheme, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission and Internal Revenue Service at the same time.

The BBB provided the following tips to prevent falling victim to this scheme:

  • Stay calm. If you receive any of these impostor calls, resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is. Scammers try to get you to act before you have a chance to think.
  • Don’t reply directly. Don’t respond to the call, text, or email. If you think the message may be real, find the government agency’s contact information on their website and contact them directly.
  • Check for look-alikes. Be sure to do your research and see if a government agency or organization actually exists. Scammers often make up names of agencies and/or grants.
  • Don’t pay any money for a “free” government grant or program. If you have to pay money to claim a “free” government grant, it is not really free. A real government agency will not ask you to pay an advanced processing fee. The only official list of all U.S. federal grant-making agencies is grants.gov

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Providence

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