BBB: New round of stimulus checks could trigger more cons

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --- Wisconsin Better Business Bureau is warning Americans of a new scam alert.

A second round of stimulus checks was announced in December by the IRS and for many, the money has already landed in their bank accounts. Meanwhile, others are waiting for distribution of the refunds. BBB says this is an ideal situation for potential scammers to take advantage of consumers. 

BBB previously received numerous reports of people contacted through texts, email, and phone calls about the new COVID-19 stimulus checks. BBB said they believe many of these same tactics may be used again. BBB warns consumers to be aware of emails or texts including instructions to click a link to request benefit payments. This link would connect consumers to an application prompting the entering of personal information in order to make sure you are getting the payments owed to you. 

In a phone variation of the con, the scammer would pretend to call from a government agency and insist on being paid immediately, or confirmation of personal information before a stimulus check can be sent. 

Other times, BBB says scammers claim additional funds are available or that the consumer can receive funds immediately once a small processing fee is paid with a pre-paid debit cards.

Here are some tips from BBB to spot a government imposter scam:

Stay calm

BBB says to resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is. Scammers try to get people to act before thinking about the situation, according to BBB.

Don't reply directly

BBB says do not respond to unknown calls, texts, or emails. If you believe the message is real, find the government agencies' contact information on the internet and contact them directly.

Check for look-alikes

BBB says to research to see if the government agency or organization that contacted you actually exists and that scammers often make up names of agencies and grants.

Do not pay any money for a "free" government grant or program

BBB says it is not really free if there is a fee involved and that a real government agency will not ask for an advanced processing fee. Instead, find out if the agency is legitimate by checking

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