During one of the worst times in recent history, scams should be the last thing we should be worrying about. But, the truth of the matter is that new scams surrounding the stimulus checks and government bailout programs for small businesses are starting to come to life daily, and are more powerful than ever before.
Almost all of us have been anxiously awaiting the financial relief checks since the approval of the COVID-19 Relief Bill was passed. When will they get here? Who will receive them? How much will you get? On top of all these questions its a sad fact to share that during this terrifying time when we should all be standing together, stronger parties are trying to take advantage of those who have been the most affected by this devastating pandemic. Following in the footsteps of our recent blog about social security scams, we wanted to do a followup blog on the very real reality and the possibility of scams and frauds appearing right now. They could look like the relief checks, the key to getting your check quicker, small business loans, loans to help out larger companies, and even promising the cure for the pandemic all in exchange for your personal information.
Waking up every day to the news right now is difficult. The unknowns are overwhelming and the lines to get toilet paper are still ridiculous. In this time that has brought so many of us together, it is almost impossible to think that yet another attack could be upon us. While many are still working or now working from home, the hauntingly large numbers of those who are now facing unemployment due to the coronavirus are staggering. This is leaving thousands upon thousands of people without a paycheck, unable to provide for their families or even pay their simple bills. Businesses, even if they are still operating on a very small level or have been forced to close or made the conscious decision to close, are also losing money by the day. When the news came that the stimulus package had been approved and relief checks would soon be on their way, a collective sigh of relief was felt among all of us. New small business loans and other relief options for companies are now in place as well. We all will slowly be getting back on our feet, in very small steps one way or another. But, while we wait for these checks, scammers could be and are now rearing their very ugly heads saying that they have your funds and to receive them you must supply them with very personal and private information. Let us stop you right now, and say that is NOT how the stimulus checks will be handled.
You, the American citizen, don't have to do anything or file any kind of paperwork or to receive your stimulus check. The economic impact payment will automatically be deposited into your bank account that was connected to your 2018 and 2019 tax returns. Even if you have received your tax returns in the past as a paper check, the IRS will still deposit the funds into the account they have on file for you automatically. They will also calculate the amount you need based on your income over your 2018 and 2019 tax returns and your personal need. You won't have to do any calculations or send in any kind of paperwork. The IRS will not be contacting you in any way. The IRS did just announce that they will be releasing a brand new website that will allow you to see the status of your stimulus check when it will arrive, and it will also allow you to check the bank account or it is headed to. If there is a problem with the bank account number, you will need to change that right away on the IRS website. The IRS is making updates to their website almost daily, so if you have any questions make sure you visit their website.
We hate that these scams and schemes are very real right now. Since they are, we wanted to make sure that you are on high alert. All of these warnings also apply to small businesses and companies receiving financial support during this time. Please take comfort in the fact that the Department of Justice is forming a legal and integrative response to deal with these frauds. The US Attorney General's office has also developed a special task force along with appointed COVID-19 fraud coordinators to help deal with this situation. Here in the Lowcountry and throughout the state of South Carolina, our District US Attorney Peter M. McCoy Jr has also stated that his office and the department of justice are making this type of fraud a priority.
Scary times can become scarier. But, we are here to help all of you through it. Stay alert, stay safe, and stay home. We will get through this Summerville, we know it!
The Pathways Team