Regardless of your political take on those $600 stimulus checks (that may already be in some people’s accounts, per Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin), there’s one thing everyone can agree on: hackers will stop at nothing to get their hands on that cash.

Money hungry thief in black clothes and tolls on his hand.

Fraud-finding firm Bolster issued a report back in spring that found nearly 61,000 fake banking websites popped up following the promise of stimulus checks. Pair that with the 145,000 newly registered domains carrying some version of the phrase “stimulus check,” and you have an extremely unfortunate number of people getting drained of a much-needed lifeline. 

Check Point Software Technologies, a vital member of the Data Connectors community, also did some research on the topic. They published some examples of the phishing scams that were tricking unsuspecting people our of their stimulus and relief checks, and to grab their bank account information via phishing.

 

cvid relief fake pic

The research team with Check Point highlighted in their April 20th blog post on the topic:

These scam websites use the news of the coronavirus (Covid-19) financial incentives, and fears about Coronavirus to try and trick people into using the websites or clicking on links.  Users that visit these malicious domains instead of the official Government websites risk having their personal information stolen and exposed, or payment theft and fraud.

They found that there were 3.5 times more domains registered after Congress announced the first stimulus. So, how can you keep yourself safe from these scams?

One important thing to note is that the Treasury Department has made it clear that any communication about this pay-out will call it an Economic Impact Payment — the term “stimulus” or anything like it would not be used in any official capacity. 

Another tip: the IRS will never (ever, ever, ever) email, call or text you. Your check will be issued via direct deposit, or by the U.S. Post Office. That said, if you do get a random check in the mail with a suspicious amount (as well as instructions to call a number to get the money), don’t fall for it. Per the current bill, the checks include $600 payments for each individual that was claimed on your most recent tax return. Certain income brackets will receive different payments, but it’s very unlikely that these checks will contain cents.

What are some of the craziest scams you’ve heard of regarding the economic relief payments? Let us know in the comments below.

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