As if Americans don’t have enough health and financial fears to deal with these days, the recently passed stimulus package has opened up a new opportunity for thieves and con artists to take advantage of Americans expecting this upcoming check to help carry the load.
Boston 25 News reports on this disturbing possibility posing a threat to Americans coast to coast. Interviewed in this piece is former FBI Special Agent Michael Tabman, who has raised the alarm of this issue. “There’s a small segment of our society thinking, ‘how can I scam my way into this and take other people’s money,’” states Tabman. “Despite all my years working scams and frauds, someone is coming up with a plan where I will say, ‘gee, I didn’t see that coming.”
Tabman isn’t expressing this concern because of irrational paranoia, this is coming from his experience regarding theft and fraud of thousands of taxpayers that occurred back in 2008 when President George W. Bush signed the last stimulus bill. “Crooks and scam artists were on the attack back then too. Technology has come a long way since then, and in many ways, it’s actually gotten easier.”
Tabman states that the “scam we saw under Bush, we saw this come up often, ‘for a small fee we are going to find out [the amount of] your check is going to be,’” and that then, “like now, crooks will call to try and lure you in, looking to move in on your money online.” With hundreds of thousands of cybercrimes and other elusive scams taking millions from Americans every year, this new round of checks sent out of every citizen means they’ll be attempting even more sophisticated scams.
“The sad reality is though,” Tabman states, “if you are caught up in one of these scams, the FBI is not going to be able to help you. They are going to take notes and statistics, but that money is gone.” So how can you protect yourself and your finances? Here are some tips from attorney generals throughout the country.
First, “the federal government will not ask you to confirm personal or banking info by email, phone or text or demand a procession fee to expedite your stimulus payment.” Secondly, “Do not click on links in email or text messages related to stimulus checks and do not provide your personal information.”
For more information on this and to watch Boston 25 News’ full report, click here.