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Experts warn about stimulus payment scams

CNN 2020

(KION) The Better Business Bureau is warning everyone to be on the lookout for stimulus and census related scams.

While millions of Americans have already received their government stimulus checks, Jalan Floyd -- a young father -- had not. So, he reached out to the IRS and got some shocking news.

"I looked it up on the website and it said someone had used me as a dependent on their taxes and that made me not eligible to get my stimulus," says fraud victim Jalan Floyd.

Someone stole Jalan's social security number. He filed a police report, but he doesn't know who's responsible.

"No clue. No clue. I never put my social out there so it surprises me somebody has my social," says Floyd.

Experts say the Covid-19 crisis has created a perfect storm for fraud. The FBI is now saying they're receiving nearly 4,000 scam complaints a day compared to nearly 1,000 a day before the pandemic.

"You have phone calls and phishing emails that are claiming to be from the world health organization, from the centers for disease control and putting a link in their saying come here for more information," says Kathy Kraninger, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The FBI is now warning about this stimulus check scam that involves emails or texts claiming you need to fill out census information to get your stimulus check.

"Click here and go to this website to register for your stimulus check which is obviously not true," says Supervisory Special Agent Bill Walton with FBI's Cyber Crimes Program.

The Better Business Bureau says their "Scamtracker" has reported an increase in stimulus fraud, especially as it relates to the census. Authorities on the Central Coast are keeping an eye out for this scam.

"People should know that unfortunately these do take place, you know we see them with this going on, we see them after natural disasters," says John Thornburg with the Monterey County Sherrif's Department.

The best way to avoid scams is to protect your personal information.

"Your social security number is the real key that a lot of people want to get into a variety of things," says Tim Maniscalo with the Better Business Bureau.

If you click on one phony link or visit the wrong website, your social security number could be compromised.

"It's just going to be very difficult for us," says fraud victim Jalan Floyd.

Anyone who thinks they've been the victim of fraud is asked to report the case to police and the Better Business Bureau.
You may not get your money back, but it will help officials to track those crimes.

Crime / Message Max / Money / Monterey County
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Max Tarlton

Max Tarlton is a morning anchor at KION News Channel 5/46.


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