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COVID Feature: Stolen Stimulus Checks

COVID Feature: Stolen Stimulus Checks

Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

While there are legitimate reasons that some are still waiting to receive their COVID-19-related CARES Act stimulus check, there have been cases of theft.  A few examples of theft have occurred in the form of caretakers taking advantage of nursing home residents and people stealing checks from mailboxes and postal trucks. Some nursing homes have falsely claimed that they are entitled to their patients’ stimulus checks if that patient is on Medicaid and requiring patients to sign over their checks. (These nursing homes are only “taking care” of their own financial greed.)

Stimulus checks also can be stolen if someone fraudulently filed a federal tax return or claimed the economic stimulus payment online using another person’s information. (Unfortunately, those who have previously had their information leaked are more likely to become a victim again.) The status of one’s stimulus check can be tracked on the IRS’s website through the “Get My Payment” tool. This can help determine if they have been a victim of theft or if their payment is still on the way.

Another common scam involves persons receiving emails, texts, or calls claiming to be from the IRS. These are most likely from fraudsters looking to collect personal information and use it to commit identity theft. The IRS will not ask for one’s Social Security number or other identifying information through these contact methods. (Older generations are particularly susceptible to these targeted emails and are more likely to become the victims of fraud.)

If someone believes their stimulus check has been stolen, they can live-chat with an Identity Theft Resource Center representative or call toll-free at 1-888-400-5530. Another option is to go on the Federal Trade Commission’s website and create an identity theft recovery plan.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a blog, “Stolen Stimulus Checks Creating Concerns for Consumers,” published by Identity Theft Resource Center on June 6, 2020.

Some consumers have yet to receive their stimulus check, leaving many wondering why. The Identity Theft Resource Center has seen a sharp increase in “stolen stimulus check” cases. However, not everyone who believes they had their stimulus check stolen finds that to be the case. In fact, there are a handful of reasons why people could still be waiting. With that said, some are legitimately stolen.

The FTC reports that some stolen stimulus checks appear to be from nursing home residents. Nursing homes in several states have made residents sign over their stimulus checks. Other cases involve people committing physical mail theft, like this New York man who stole over $12,000 worth of stimulus checks. Some thieves are going as far as stealing stimulus checks from postal trucks. The Chicago metro saw multiple postal trucks get broken into in April.

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