Consumer Alert: Be watchful for COVID relief scammers as next round of payments continues
Congress authorized household payments of up to $600 for each qualifying individual, similar to the initial round of Economic Impact Payments that were distributed as part of the CARES Act in the spring of 2020. The new round of federal payments will be issued through direct deposit to bank accounts or payments mailed directly to individuals. And as was the case during the initial round, Schmidt said Kansans should be wary of scammers offering to assist with receiving the payments.
“We know all too well that scammers will be back to their old tricks in attempting to cash in on the latest round of stimulus payments,” Schmidt said. “I caution all Kansans to use good judgment to prevent loss of the money they are entitled to receive at this critical time.”
Schmidt offered these tips to avoid falling prey to a scammer:
- The Internal Revenue Service will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. There are no fees or charges associated with receiving the payment. No one from the federal government will call, email or text message you and ask for your Social Security number, bank account information or credit card number. Anyone who does this is a scammer.
- Anyone calling and telling you they can get the check to you today is a scammer. Our best advice is to not answer calls, emails or text messages from phone numbers or email addresses you do not know. If you do answer a phone call, once you realize it’s not someone you know, just hang up.
- The Federal Trade Commission has warned of facilities requiring that residents on Medicaid sign over their funds, claiming that because the person is on Medicaid the facility is entitled to the payment. But Congress provided for the impact payments in the form of a tax credit, which under federal tax law do not count as “resources” for the purposes of being eligible for federal benefits programs like Medicaid. Because of this classification, nursing homes cannot assert a right to the payment merely because the resident is on Medicaid.
- If you’ve been contacted by a scammer impersonating the federal government asking for information relating to the stimulus payment or any other COVID-19 scam, you can file a complaint with our Consumer Protection Division online at www.ag.ks.gov. You can also call (800) 432-2310 to request a paper complaint form be sent to you by mail.