Floridians: Beware of ‘scammers’ trying to steal coronavirus stimulus money

There’s no need to apply, submit personal information to receive check

Florida's attorney general said scammers are trying to trick residents out of their stimulus money.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The checks haven’t even been mailed and already scammers are trying to steal the coronavirus stimulus money due to be distributed across the state, according to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.

Her office put out a public service announcement Monday letting residents know that they don’t need to apply online or respond to ads or text messages in order to receive the $1,200 promised to every American who earns $1,200 or less.

President Donald Trump signed the $2 trillion economic relief bill on Friday that also allows eligible workers to receive an additional $600 per week on top of current state benefits.

“Anytime the government provides benefits, scammers swarm like sharks in a feeding frenzy, trying to steal payments before they can be distributed. Sadly, even before the coronavirus stimulus package passed, scammers began sending text messages to people claiming they could make a claim by clicking a link that most likely contained malware. Be skeptical of any unsolicited messages from strangers asking you to click links or provide personal information to receive benefits, and educate yourself about the economic rescue package now, to avoid falling victim to these and other new fraud tactics,” Moody said.

The Internal Revenue Service will distribute payments using direct deposit information on file for taxpayers in the coming weeks. The agency will also mail notices to recipients a few weeks after the payments are made. Anyone who receives a notice without getting a payment should contact the IRS.

Do not expect communications from the IRS via email, text or social media.

Moody suggests following these tips to keep safe from scammers:

  • Do not respond to text messages, emails or ads directing you to click on a link.
  • Never provide any personal or financial information in response to an unsolicited message.
  • Don’t trust caller ID displays claiming a call is from the IRS because spoofing technology allows scammers to change phone displays to impersonate government agencies.
  • Never make any advance payment in order to secure or expedite access to a benefit.

Anyone who encounters fraud, coronavirus-related or otherwise, can report it by clicking here or by calling 1-866-9NO-SCAM.

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter or go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.