State Officials Warn Tennesseans Not to Waste COVID-19 Stimulus Money on Scams

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Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service officials will distribute COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments in the next few weeks, but Tennessee officials warned state residents Wednesday to use caution as they get this money.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance Securities Division joins the IRS – Criminal Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Tennessee to warn about possible scams. These scams relate to these payments as well as other malicious attempts to defraud people relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release.

“During these stressful times, I urge consumers to take extra precautions in order to ensure their personal finances do not fall prey to scam artists and bad actors who may use the COVID-19 pandemic for their personal gain,” said TDCI Commissioner Hodgen Mainda.

“Consumers should familiarize themselves with the red flags commonly associated with these COVID-19 financial scams in order to help protect their families from financial risk during this period.”

For most Americans, the Economic Impact Payment will get distributed automatically and will result in a direct deposit into the bank account designated by their 2018 or 2019 federal tax returns. For eligible recipients who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check, they will receive their economic impact payment in this manner as well. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the Economic Impact Payment with no action required by most eligible recipients, the press release said.

“The IRS will not contact you to ask you to pay a fee or confirm personal information prior to receiving the Economic Impact Payment. If you receive a phone call, text, or email asking for payment or confirmation of personal or financial information, it is a scam,” the press release said.

“Do not give out your bank account, debit account or PayPal account information, even if the caller claims it is necessary to get your check or that by doing so you can receive your payment faster. Additionally, don’t click on links in texts or emails relating to Economic Impact Payments, as this could allow scammers to place tracing devices on your electronic devices and gain access to your personal information for later use. Don’t engage with scammers or thieves, simply hang up or delete texts/emails.”

It will take a few weeks before the Treasury sends the Economic Impact Payments, the press release said.

If you receive a check for an odd amount, for instance $1,322.48, or a check that requires you to verify the check online or by calling a number then it is a fraud, the press release said.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

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