Be aware of COVID-19 relief payment scams

Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) – Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring has issued a consumer alert for Virginians urging them to be wary of scammers who are looking to take advantage of the $600 federal relief payments.

“This is a moment when we should all be coming together to support one another, but unfortunately we know that scammers and criminals often view payments like the $600 economic assistance as an opportunity to line their own pockets. Just remember that no action should be required on your part in order to receive the assistance. 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.”

Mark Herring, Virginia’s Attorney General

Herring also mentioned that if you do receive communication by email, text or phone call, from someone claiming to be with the government, do not give them your personal information.

Scams like this, known as phishing, will likely ask for things like bank account information for direct deposit.

Herring says that the government will not ask you to pay any money up front to get a stimulus check, so if you are asked to, it is a scam.

Some additional tips to avoid becoming a victim of a government imposter scam include:

  • Do not give the caller any of your financial or other personal information. This includes bank information, social security number or credit cards. Scammers can use this 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, hang up the phone and contact the company to which the caller claims to be with.
  • Do not trust a name or number. Scammers use official-sounding names, titles and organizations to make you want to trust them. In order to make the call appear to be legitimate, scammers can also use internet technology to disguise their area code or generate a fake name on caller ID, so even if a number that shows up on your caller ID may appear to be legitimate or come from 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 cannot trace it or get it back.
  • Join the National Do Not Call Registry and do not answer numbers you do no know. While this won’t stop scammers from calling, it can limit the contact you have with them. Most legitimate salespeople generally honor the No Not Call Registry. Scammers do not.

In short, if you do not initiate the call, you should never give personal information over the phone.

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