Will the Treasury Department really issue stimulus checks of $12,000? No-but some con artists would like you to believe so. Crooks miss no opportunity to take your money-and began plotting stimulus-related schemes as soon as the law was passed in February.
In “Watch Out for Stimulus Scams,” Kiplinger’s Personal Finance contributing editor Kim Lankford uncovers the most common cons and offers tips to avoid them:
· $12,000 Government Grant. This ad says you can order a CD or access a special Web site that will show you how to get a $12,000 government grant-if you make a small credit-card payment. But the fine print shows that you’re also signing up for recurring credit-card charges that can be tough to get out of. The Better Business Bureau found that people who signed up for this advice were charged as much as $69.95 every month on their credit or debit cards.
· Warning of Stimulus Forfeit. The crook sends an e-mail claiming to be from the IRS, warning that if you don’t respond promptly (often with your bank-account information), you’ll forfeit your stimulus money. The IRS does not contact taxpayers by e-mail and never asks for PINs, passwords, or secret access information for credit cards or bank accounts. If you click on a link in the message, you could be directed to a phishing Web site, which the crook created to collect personal information.
So, how can you protect yourself?
1) File a Complaint. If you’ve received a fraudulent email, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and the Federal Trade Commission.
2) Do A Company Background Check. Check out companies and learn about recent scams at the Better Business Bureau’s Web site.
3) Visit the FBI. Read warnings about e-mail hoaxes and phishing scams on the FBI’s Cyber Investigations Web site.”
-source Kiplinger’s Personal Finance