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BBB issues scammers alert

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On March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law.

The act provided economic relief to individuals and small businesses facing the economic downturn created by the coronavirus crisis.

Although the economic impact payments may yet to have made their way to the accounts of consumers, the Better Business Bureau said scammers are already trying to take advantage of the situation by getting personal information from individuals that can be used in thefts later or by obtaining some of the payments from consumers.

Some consumers are reporting receiving calls from people who claim to be from the Social Security Administration, the BBB said. These callers tell consumers there are problems associated with their Social Security account, and their economic impact payment will be withheld until it is solved.

The scammers then get their targets’ Social Security number by asking them to confirm what the Social Security number is.

Other scammers are reaching consumers via text, saying if the consumers pay a certain amount, they can receive their payments within 24 – 48 hours.

The Better Business Bureau, a national assistance agency that helps people find businesses, nonprofits and brands they can trust, urges the public to keep the following suggestions in mind to avoid scams as you await your economic impact payment:

No payment or information is required. The IRS will use your 2019 tax information (2018 if you have not yet filed for 2019) to calculate and send your payments. No additional action is required on your part, including sending payments or personal information.

Simple tax returns are available. If you do not file a tax return, complete a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment. More information on filing this return is available at IRS.gov/coronavirus.

No government agency will call or email you. The SSA has stated they will only contact consumers who have requested to receive a call or already have ongoing business with them. If anyone claiming to be from government agencies, such as the IRS, SSA or U.S. Treasury Department, contacts you via text, email or phone call, do not respond.

Know your eligibility. Tax filers who have adjusted gross income levels of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples will receive full payment. Payment is reduced by $5 for each $100 above that threshold. Individuals with income above $99,000 or couples above $198,000 with no children are not eligible.

Report scams. If a scammer contacts you, hang up or ignore the message. Report scams to BBB.org/ScamTracker, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or the Office of the Inspector General at oig.ssa.gov.

To find out more on economic impact payments, visit us at BBB.org/coronavirus, irs.gov/coronavirus and https://home.treasury.gov/cares.