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Va. AG Herring on stimulus check scams

Published: Jan. 9, 2021 at 7:21 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The second round of government stimulus checks are rolling out and with those come warnings from Va. Attorney General Mark Herring so you do not find yourself handing over your personal information or relief payment to a scammer.

“Experience tells us whenever there are government payments like stimulus or relief payments, scammers always try to find a way to separate you from your money,” Herring said.

Herring said if you receive a call, text or email regarding your check, do not respond. All checks will be automatically deposited into your bank account or mailed directly to you.

Do not give out any personal information regarding your bank account. Herring said scammers will likely ask for your bank account information or your social security number.

Herring said the government will never ask for money upfront for a stimulus check. If you do fall victim to sending money or prepaid gift cards, he said you will probably not get your money back, as scammers sometimes contact you from around the world.

With the first round of stimulus checks in 2020, Herring said scams were reported to the Consumer Protection Section, but this second time, so far, so good.

“There were a lot of scammers out there,” Herring said. “A lot of them were by email so it’s really important for people to be on the lookout for those, also a lot of robocalls. If you get a robocall saying, ‘Press one to process your relief payment’ don’t do it. It’s a scam.”

Additional tips from the Attorney General’s Office include:

Don’t give the caller any of your financial or other personal information – Never give out or confirm financial or other sensitive information, including your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number, unless you know exactly who you’re dealing with. Scammers can use your 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 — contact the company to which the caller claims you owe money to inquire about the call.

Don’t trust a name or number – Scammers use official-sounding names, titles, and organizations to make you trust them. To make the call seem legitimate, scammers also use internet technology to disguise their area code or generate a fake name on caller ID. So even though it may look like they’re calling locally or somewhere in 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 can’t trace it or get it back.

Join the National Do Not Call Registry and don’t answer numbers you don’t know – This won’t stop scammers from calling but it should make you skeptical of calls you get from out of the blue. Most legitimate salespeople generally honor the Do Not Call list. Scammers ignore it. Putting your number on the list helps to “screen” your calls for legitimacy and reduce the number of legitimate telemarketing calls you get.

If something suspicious happens to you regarding your stimulus check payment, call 1 (800) 552-9963, email consumer@oag.state.va.us, or file an online complaint here.

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