As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) public health crisis takes a growing toll on peoples' pocketbooks, the federal government is working on legislation to send money by check or direct deposit to qualifying Americans to offset the financial burden and boost the economy. The details are still being worked out, but Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum Thursday issued a warning about scammers who might target COVID-19 relief checks.
Rosenblum said there are some important things to keep in mind, no matter what the final legislation looks like.
"Normally I would want to wait to know what the payment plan looks like before I put out a message like this. But these aren't normal times," Rosenblum said. "It is just inevitable that scammers are gearing up to exploit vulnerable Oregonians to try to steal their government relief checks. We can prevent this from happening by being on high alert now"
Here are three tips the attorney general issued to keep you safe:
The government will not contact you to ask you to pay anything up front in order to get this money. No fees. No charges. Nothing. Anyone who asks for fees up front is a scammer.
The government will not contact you to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number to confirm your identity. Anyone who asks for this type of information is a scammer.
Keep in mind that, as of March 26 - Congress has not yet approved these payments and it could easily be another week or so. They are still working out the details. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money right now is a scammer.
"Here's the bottom line," said Attorney General Rosenblum, "No matter when or how much this payment winds up being, only scammers will ask you for money in order to get it."
If you spot this type of scam, contact the Oregon Department of Justice by phone at 503-387-8442 or online at oregonconsumer.gov. The department pledges to do its best to stop scammers in their tracks, and your report will help.
Keep up to date with the latest Coronavirus-related scams at https://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer-protection/sales-scams-fraud/price-gouging/