The FTC is always on the look out for scammers latest and greatest ideas on how to take your money, your information, your time, and cause you headaches.
In this era of coronavirus things are no different. Things to look out for:
If you get unsolicited emails, phone calls, text messages offering help either finding out about your stimulus payment or applying for it or getting it early do not reply. They are looking to get your information like date of birth, social security number. We may be wise to the phone calls and email but here is what to do if you get unsolicited text messages – scammers new way of reaching out to you:
- Do not click on any links.Clicking could expose you to scams, download malware, or get your phone number added to lists that are then sold to other bad actors.
- Delete those text messages immediately.
- If you have questions about the federal government’s economic impact payment, go to irs.gov/coronavirus.
Avoid scams trying to get your stimulus money after you have received it. Messages to “get rich quick” by investing your stimulus money are too good to be true. The FTC Consumer protection arm has identified several multi-level marketing companies currently soliciting with these messages:
- “Need to make extra money? Find it difficult to pay your bills? Were you laid off/ #fired? Be your own Boss w/doTERRA essential oils. Msg me to achieve financial independence #laidoff #unemployed #cantpaymybills #cantpaymyrent #student #sales #sidehustle #makemoney #stayathomemom.”
- “…Living in quarantine and where 14 million people applied for unemployment just last week … I’ll stick with the opportunity to change people’s lives … turn a small investment into six figures …. #arbonne … #quarantine #2020”
- “[E]veryone’s getting stimulus checks right now… There is no better investment you could do… Take that money that you’re about to get back… figure out a way to make this happen tonight.”
And if you own a small business and are applying for the Paycheck Protection Program or Disaster Relief Loan watch out for companies offering “help”:
- Don’t pay in advance for information. All the information from the SBA is free at sba.gov/coronavirus.
- Don’t pay in advance for a government loan. You don’t have to pay up front to get an SBA loan.
- Don’t give your information to someone who calls, emails, or texts you out of the blue. The SBA won’t call unsolicited to find out information about you or your business, or to ask you to apply for a loan. The SBA is not going to send you emails or text messages asking for sensitive information. If you get an email or text like this, delete it. It’s a scam.
- Don’t apply for a loan without verifying the lender. Only SBA-authorized lenders can provide PPP loans, and other loans may be available through SBA directly. To find an SBA-authorized lender in your area, use this SBA tool.
- Don’t click on links or reply to emails or text messages from someone you don’t know. If you click on the links, you could download malware to your computer or device or be connected to a scammer or hacker.