Have you received a simple white envelope with the words “Not a bill or an advertisement” on the front? Don’t throw it away.
The US Department of Treasury sent those letters out, and they contain a prepaid debit card with your Economic Impact Payment (EIP). These prepaid debit cards are intended for people without access to a bank account for a check to be deposited in.
Some people are rightfully suspicious of the potential for scams, especially when there is free money involved. The IRS released a statement last year-“History has shown that criminals take every opportunity to perpetrate a fraud on unsuspecting victims, especially when a group of people is vulnerable or in a state of need,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Don Fort. “While you are waiting to hear about your economic impact payment, criminals are working hard to trick you into getting their hands on it. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division is working hard to find these scammers and shut them down, but in the meantime, we ask people to remain vigilant.”
“Oregonians should be especially wary during this time,” Oregon Attorney General Rosenblum said in a statement on the Oregon Department of Justice website. “While you’re waiting to receive your long-awaited stimulus money, scammers are working hard to trick you into getting their hands on it.”
The IRS anticipates a new wave of phishing scammers to try to get your personal information for identity theft or to steal your stimulus payment for themselves. The most vulnerable people, the elderly or young adults, are warned to be alert for these tricky schemers. However, anyone of any age could be susceptible to the high-pressure tactics known by these ever-adapting scammers and the perfect mix of desperate circumstances.
What To Do
If you are contacted by anyone suspicious, immediately hang up the phone. Any verifiable agency will have a legitimate return phone number or address that can be cross-referenced and checked at a later time.
The Oregon Department of Justice will accept complaints regarding any suspicious scammers posing an IRS organization. File a complaint online at www.oregonconsumer.gov or call the Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9392 and request a mail-in complaint form.
Below is a list of advice to protect your private information from potential scammers.
- Never sign over your EIP to any person you do not know.
- The IRS will never ask for your banking information as a condition to provide your EIP.
- Do not allow anyone to work on your behalf to expedite your EIP.
- Be wary of bogus checks in the mail and letters requesting personal information to be filled out on online forms.
By: Shawnell Tolliver