Watch out for scammers after your stimulus check money

A big chunk of stimulus payments hit bank accounts today so that means scammers are working to intercept those payments.

We warned you about some of these schemes related to the stimulus payments where scammers duplicate banking websites and the IRS website to try and intercept your personal information to get your payment. There is also a scam where fraudsters pretend to be a celebrity to convince you to give up your banking information.

There are so many different variations of the scams that you need to watch out for right now. You need to be on guard.

When checking the status of your stimulus payment, make sure you only use this website or the IRS app IRS2Go. The website must have .gov included in the URL. Also look for the lock symbol in the URL.

The Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina issued this warning about a scam involving government impostors calling about the checks.

How the Scam Works According to the BBB:

You receive a message or see a social media post regarding the COVID-19 economic impact check. You click the link and are taken to what seems to be an official website asking you to enter your personal information and/or banking details. It's "necessary" to verify your identity and process your check.

As always, there are several versions of this con. BBB Scam Tracker has received reports of people contacted through text messages, social media posts and messages, and phone calls. One variation is a Facebook post telling seniors about a special grant to help pay medical bills. The link leads to a website claiming to be a government agency called the "U.S. Emergency Grants Federation" (phony, of course). The site requests your Social Security number under the guise of needing to verify your eligibility. In other versions, scammers claim that you can get additional money - up to $150,000 in one case - or even receive your funds immediately. All you need to do is share personal details and pay a small "processing fee."

No matter what the message, don't click! In addition to taking your money, these sites also can download malware to your device and use your information for identity theft.

RELATED | Beware of these COVID-19 scams, which have bilked consumers of nearly $6 million

Tips to Spot a COVID-19 Stimulus Scams:

Remember, government agencies do not communicate through social media avenues like Facebook. So, be wary of unsolicited messages.

Do not pay any money for a "free" government grant or stimulus payments. If you have to pay money to claim a "free" government grant, it is not really free. A real government agency will not ask you to pay an advanced processing fee. The only official list of all U.S. federal grant-making agencies is

Check for look-alikes. Be sure to do your research and see if a government agency or organization actually exists. Find contact info on your own and call them to be sure the person you've heard from is legitimate.

Don't assume an offer in a social media message is from a real friend. It's easier for scammers to impersonate real people on social media. Call your friend to verify they contacted you (and share this Scam Alert with them if they are spreading false information).
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