The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) recently issued an advisory regarding fraudulent COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments (EIP). U.S. authorities have identified numerous EIP-related fraud schemes such as:
Fraudulent Checks: Fraudulent checks are mailed to victims, instructing the recipients to call a provided number to cash the fraudulent relief checks. Victims are asked to provide personal or banking information to speed up their relief payments.
Altered Checks: Fraudsters have begun depositing altered EIP checks, often via ATMs or by mobile deposit. The altered checks often have the payee chemically altered to enter a new payee, or the payee line is left blank. The fraudsters may alter the amount as well before the deposit.
Counterfeit Checks: Fraudsters have created counterfeit EIP checks and deposited them via ATM or by mobile deposit. Though the counterfeit checks look legitimate, they often have irregularities such as the check number, paper, coloring, and/or font.
Theft of EIP: Thieves have stolen relief checks from the mail, requesting EIP disbursal for ineligible persons, applying for EIP on behalf of other persons without the payee’s knowledge or approval, or using stolen Personally Identifiable Information to apply to the IRS for EIP disbursal.
Phishing Schemes using EIP as a lure: Scammers are using emails, letters, phone calls, and text messages containing keywords such as “Coronavirus,” “Covid-19,” and “Stimulus” in an attempt to obtain Personally Identifiable Information.
Inappropriate seizure of EIP: Private companies with control over a person’s finances or who serve as their rep payee have inappropriately seized the payee’s EIP payment for wage garnishments or debt collection. The rep payee does not return the inappropriately seized payments.
It is unlikely that you will be contacted by phone, email or text regarding your Economic Impact Payment. Be cautious when opening emails or click on links regarding EIPs and never provide personal information unless you are sure the communication you received is authentic.
Please also contact us if you are concerned that you may have fallen victim to a scam so that we can assist you with protecting your accounts and identity.