Residents are cautioned to be on the lookout for scams involving claims of stimulus checks from the federal government.
After the announcement of the $2 trillion federal economic stimulus package, the state attorney general and Department of Consumer Protection began receiving reports of “bad actors looking to steal Americans’ personal information and money,” according to a statement.
“Scam artists will use this public health emergency and much-needed relief as a way to profit off of the public’s fears and vulnerabilities...” Attorney General William Tong said in the statement.
Tong advised residents to do research if they receive a phone call, text message or email from someone claiming to be from the federal government.
Police in Meriden, Wallingford, Southington and Cheshire said residents have not reported any issues with scams related to the stimulus checks, or the COVID-19 crisis. State police also said they have not received any complaints.
“Hopefully people heed the warning,” Meriden Police Sgt. Darrin McKay said Tuesday. “It’s no different than a phishing scam.”
Phishing is the criminal practice of using email or text messages to trick a person into giving out personal information, according to the Federal Trade Commission consumer website https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/. The site features tips for avoiding coronavirus scams.
McKay said if residents get text messages with links to access “their stimulus check” they should not provide any personal information, including social security number or credit card information.
Wallingford Police Lt. Cheryl Bradley also advised caution.
“My understanding of the stimulus money is that it will be directly deposited or mailed out,” Bradley said. “As for organizations soliciting money based on the COVID-19 cause, I would encourage people to do their homework to determine if the organization is legitimate. There will be a plethora of organizations developing out of this tragedy, some legitimate and others not. Research, research, research.”
Lora Rae Anderson, spokeswoman for the Department of Consumer Protection, said residents should know that the government will not require people to provide a Social Security number, “or pay a fee in order to get a stimulus check — or gain access to programs offered as a result of COVID-19.”
“We have heard about consumers receiving emails with suspicious links offering to get them a stimulus check immediately if only they click and turn over personal information,” Anderson said Tuesday. “You will never receive an unsolicited email about a stimulus check. We have also heard of scams tying the census to stimulus checks and want people to know that you filling out the census is not tied to access to stimulus money.”
Anderson said charities in Connecticut have to be registered with the Department of Consumer Protection. Residents can verify a charity’s registration by going to elicense.ct. gov. Scam charities will pressure residents to donate immediately, legitimate ones will allow people to do research. Legitimate charities will also be transparent about where the donated money is going. Anderson said if there is an offer for something in return for a donation, such as a vacation, it is most likely a scam.
If you receive a suspicious phone call, email or text message, contact the Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Department of Consumer Protection at email@example.com.