New Scam Targets Recipients of Federal Stimulus Checks

OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Senator Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey are warning New Jersey residents to be wary of a dangerous and effective new scam that asks individuals to provide their bank account information via phone, email, or social media message in order to receive or expedite their $1,200 federal stimulus check.

“If a person calls, emails, or messages you and tells you that you need to give them your bank account information in order to receive your stimulus check or to receive it more quickly, they’re flat-out lying,” said Gopal (D-Long Branch). “You do not need to provide any additional information to any caller or emailer in order to receive these funds.”

“The Federal Trade Commission has provided a full set of details regarding your eligibility for the CARES Act federal stimulus program to protect you from these scammers,” said Houghtaling (D-Neptune). “We encourage all of our residents to stay up-to-date on the details of this stimulus package and be aware of the dangers of sharing their personal information.”

“This is an unprecedented time, and it’s easy to see why even the most skeptical person might fall prey to this scam,” said Downey (D-Freehold). “We want to make sure that everyone is fully informed of this scam, and that you have the tools you need to keep your family’s finances safe. If you have any questions about this program, we encourage you to contact our office at (732) 695-3371.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s article regarding this scam:

  1. You don’t need to do anything. As long as you filed taxes for 2018 and/or 2019, the federal government likely has the information it needs to send you your money. Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are otherwise not required to file a tax return also do not need to do anything to receive their money. If you otherwise have not filed taxes recently, you may need to submit a simple tax return to get your check. More information on who is eligible can be found on the official IRS website.
  2. Do not give anyone your personal information to “sign-up” for your relief check. There is nothing to sign up for. Anyone calling to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security number, PayPal account, or bank information is a scammer, plain and simple. Also be on the lookout for email phishing scams, where scammers pretend to be from the government and ask for your information as part of the “sign-up” process for the checks.
  3. To set up direct deposit of your check, communicate only with the IRS at irs.gov/coronavirus. You only need to do this if you didn’t give the IRS your bank information on your 2018 or 2019 return. In the coming weeks, the IRS will be setting up an online form available through irs.gov/coronavirus. However, you should share your bank information nowhere else, and never in response to an email, text, or call.
  4. No one has early access to this money. Anyone that claims to is a scammer. The timeline for this process is not exact, but it looks like funds will start going out in the next few weeks. Scammers are using the lack of detail to try to trick people into giving their personal information and money.

To get official updates and more information, residents can visit the IRS’s page on economic impact payments. If you come across a scammer trying to take your check, you can report it at ftc.gov/complaint.


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