RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued a consumer alert warning Virginians to be cautious of scammers trying to get personal information as part of a new federal stimulus payment scam.
The scammers claim to be the federal government and ask for private information. This includes asking for bank account information to direct deposit one-time stimulus payments.
“You should never give your personal information to anyone over the phone, email, or a text message unless you are absolutely sure that you know the identity of the person requesting it,” Herring said in a news release.
“Unfortunately, in times of uncertainty or crisis unscrupulous people will try and find new ways to take money from hardworking Virginians."
If you receive an email, text or phone call about these stimulus checks from someone purporting to be with the government to not give them personal information.
These phishing scams will likely ask for things like bank account information under the guise of direct depositing money from the stimulus package into your bank account.
The federal government will not ask you to pay any money up front to get a stimulus check.
Herring urges anyone that has been a victim of a scam like this to reach out to the Consumer Protection Section.
Here are some tips shared by the AG's office:
- Don’t give the caller any of your financial or other personal information – Never give out or confirm financial or other sensitive information, including your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number, unless you know exactly who you're dealing with. Scammers can use your information to commit identity theft. If you get a call about a debt that may be legitimate — but you think the collector may not be — contact the company to which the caller claims you owe money to inquire about the call.
- Don’t trust a name or number – Scammers use official-sounding names, titles, and organizations to make you trust them. To make the call seem legitimate, scammers also use internet technology to disguise their area code or generate a fake name on caller ID. So even though it may look like they’re calling locally or somewhere in the United States, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
- Never wire money or send cash or a pre-paid card – These transactions are just like sending someone cash! Once your money is gone, you can’t trace it or get it back.
- Join the National Do Not Call Registry and don’t answer numbers you don’t know – This won’t stop scammers from calling but it should make you skeptical of calls you get from out of the blue. Most legitimate salespeople generally honor the Do Not Call list. Scammers ignore it. Putting your number on the list helps to “screen” your calls for legitimacy and reduce the number of legitimate telemarketing calls you get.