BBB: Danielle Kane

Danielle Kane

As job loss continues to rise with the spread of the Coronavirus, people are looking to the newly passed stimulus bill to bring some relief. The United States Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced that the distribution of economic impact payments was, ideally, to begin three weeks after the bill was passed on March 27.

As a quick review, individual taxpayers can expect up to $1,200 from the government thanks to the stimulus bill. Couples would receive $2,400 plus $500 per child. How much you get will be based on how much you make, which will be determined by your 2019 or 2018 tax returns.

At Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific, we advise consumers to always file their taxes as early as possible, but especially now, do not wait or file an extension on your taxes if you don’t have to. The IRS needs the most up to date information on file (from 2018 or 2019) in order to mail or directly deposit the stimulus check.

If you receive Social Security and typically do not file a tax return, you will no longer need to file a simple tax return or any other paperwork to receive the stimulus. You will automatically get the check based on information the government has for your Social Security payments.

Unfortunately, as I’ve said before, when crisis strikes, scammers thrive.

This new bill will undoubtedly lead to an increase of scam phone calls, text messages, or emails from imposters pretending to work for the government, asking for personal information and claiming you need to provide it to receive stimulus benefits. BBB is warning everyone not to give out any personally identifiable information, especially social security numbers.

Better Business Bureau has these tips to make sure you know the correct information and understand how untrustworthy people may try to take advantage:

  • First, no payment or personal data is required to receive a recovery check. The IRS has your tax information for this purpose. If you are contacted and told you need to pay a “fee” to receive the check, hang up the call or delete the email.
  • Seniors are especially vulnerable to these kinds of scams. As many of us are social distancing, it is imperative during this time to check on elderly neighbors and others who may need help, to be sure they are made aware of the most recent scams relevant to the coronavirus crisis.
  • Verify any checks you do get in the mail to ensure it is the real stimulus check.

For more information on this topic, you can visit bbb.org/covid19 or go directly to irs.gov, which has the most recent information on these economic impact payments. If you are a victim of a scam, please report it to bbb.org/scamtracker.

Danielle Kane is the Better Business Bureau marketplace manager for Portland. She can be reached at danielle.kane@thebbb.org.

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