CORONAVIRUS

Stimulus check in US: hoaxes and scams to steal your money directly from the IRS

Over 180,000 coronavirus-themed websites have been set up by scammers to trick people out of their stimulus check money as fraudulent behaviour increases.

Stimulus check in US: hoaxes and scams to steal your money directly from the IRS
PETER KOMKA EFE

Hackers, scammers and hoaxers have set their sights on government-issued stimulus checks. 180,000 coronavirus-themed websites have been set up to encourage people to fill in their details in an effort to get their $1,200. These are nervous times for people in the United States with over 26 million people now unemployed and these scammers are taking advantage of those nerves.

The Better Business Bureau report that some of these scammers are even turning to calling people directly and telling them they qualify for a Covid-19 grant, saying the victim just has to verify some information before the grant is verified. The same thing is happening via social media and text messages.

"The IRS is asking consumers for their mailing addresses, email addresses – it’s all appropriate information," said Rivka Little, senior vice president of marketing and strategy at Socure. "But all of those points of data are out there; they’re already breached and attainable,"  she said.

Scammers trying to steal stimulus checks

“Right now, due to how vulnerable the population is, it’s really prime picking for fraudsters to come out in full force,” Donna Parent, the chief marketing officer at Sontiq, a identity theft protection company, said. The Federal Trade Commission “is reporting more than $13 million in fraud loss due to COVID-19—that’s only going to exponentially increase with stimulus payment scams.”

Another more advanced hoax is the setting up of coronavirus log-in pages for people to enter their details into. “One easy way for scammers to take advantage of the ‘Get My Payment’ app is to create copies of the login page,” said Abhishek Dubey, CEO of Bolster.

The advice is not to give out information and not to click on links from emails or messages. Go directly to the IRS website and make sure the correct link is in the address bar of your internet browser. With people desperately trying to keep their families and themselves fed during the pandemic, scammers are looking to take advantage and preying on people's most fundamental insecurities.