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Be Aware of Federal Stimulus ($1200) Payment Scams and Be Aware of Fraudulent COVID-19 Health Scams

UPDATED INFORMATION:  BEWARE OF STIMULUS CHECK SCAMS

 Federal Stimulus Checks to offset lost income will be sent in a few weeks.

The details of how this will work are still being developed by the IRS, but we do know a few things about this.  Here is what you need to know, as updated by the latest information from the IRS.

  • You do not need to do anything to get your check. If you filed taxes for 2018 or 2019 or are a recipient of social security or railroad retiree benefits, the federal government should have the information it needs to send you the check by direct deposit.  Otherwise the check will be sent by mail.
  • Do not give anyone your personal information to “sign-up” for your refief check. There is nothing to sign up for.  Anyone calling to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security Number, PayPal account, or bank information is a scammer, plain and simple.
  • Be on the look-out for phishing scams, where scammers pretend to be from the government and ask for your information as part of a fraudulent “sign-up” process for checks.
  • To set up a direct deposit of your check, communicate only with the IRS at gov/coronavirus. You only need to do this if you did not give the IRS your bank information on your 2018 or 2019 tax return or if you already receive Social Security or Railroad Retirees benefits.  The IRS will be setting up a portal at their website at irs.gov/coronavirus, to help people, but no other website is legitimate and NEVER respond to an email, text or call because the government will not contact you to ask for this information.
  • There is no early access to this money. Anyone who claims that they can get you your money “fast” or “immediately” is a scammer.  The IRS is still working out the timeline for checks to go out.  Scammers are using this lack of detail and information to try and trick people into giving out their personal information to the scammer. 

If a scammer calls or contacts you, don’t engage – hang up – delete the email – do not click on a link. 

 To get official updates and more information, visit the IRS’s website on economic impact payments. And if you come across a scammer trying to take your check, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at  ftc.gov/complaint.

www.cabq.gov/scams  or Call 311 for help

ALBUQUERQUE CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION INITIATIVE

******

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 8, 2020

SUPERINTENDENT OF INSURANCE, ATTORNEY GENERAL
WARN ABOUT COVID-19 SCAMS

Santa Fe, NM – The New Mexico Office of Superintendent of Insurance (“Superintendent”) and
the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General are warning businesses and consumers that conartists
and scammers are taking advantage of the panic, fear and confusion surrounding the
COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) pandemic, and have intensified efforts to defraud and steal.
“Defrauding New Mexican families during the COVID-19 health emergency is unconscionable,”
said Attorney General Balderas. “Anyone who compromises our families’ access to health and
security will be prosecuted.”
Superintendent of Insurance Russell Toal noted that scams take many forms and are constantly
changing, but that most scams follow a common pattern. The scammer will use an unsolicited
letter, phone call, or text message to warn you about a risk to your health, safety, finances,
insurance or business. The scammer likely will offer you a “time sensitive” opportunity, or tell
you that you must take immediate action. To respond to the warning or opportunity, you will be
asked to purchase a product or service, or to provide personal identification information.
Very often, the scammer’s request or notice will appear to come from a government agency, a
reputable charity, or even an established business. A phone call or text message may appear to
come from a number you recognize. These deceptions are called “spoofing”, and are intended to
cause you to lower your guard.
Once you provide access to your information, a scammer may steal your identity or your money,
or may sell your information to criminals on the dark web. Because you may never recover money
lost to a scammer, and it can take years to restore a stolen identity, the Superintendent and the
Attorney General are urging all businesses and consumers to exercise extreme caution if you
receive any unsolicited letter, phone call or text message.
Examples of scams include:
● Offers for free COVID-19 home testing kits or promoting bogus COVID-19 cures.
● Pressures to require you to change your current health insurance, or warning you that your
health insurance is at risk unless you act immediately.
● Warnings from government agencies that you must take a “mandatory online COVID-19
test” with a malicious link.
● Warnings of impending quarantines with a malicious link or erroneous instructions
intended to cause panic.
● Offers for products or services, such as protective equipment or HVAC duct cleaning, as a
way to “protect” your home and family from the virus.
● Offers for work-from-home opportunities, student loan repayment plans, and debt
consolidation offers.
● A scammer may pretend to be a government agency and ask you to verify your identity.
Consumers aren’t the only target. Small businesses are also getting scam calls about virus-related
products or services.
Please remember, no government agency will ever call or text you to verify your personal
information or bank account details.
The Superintendent has warned insurers and insurance agents about engaging in insurance sales
practices that are deceptive and misleading. The Superintendent is confident that the persons and
companies it licenses will exercise every effort to avoid such practices. Regrettably, because
scammers and con-artists are rarely licensed and disregard our laws, individual New Mexicans
must take precautions themselves to avoid being scammed.
The Superintendent and the Attorney General offer the following tips to help you protect yourself
from scams, including Coronavirus scams:
● Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers, or any others that appear
suspicious
● Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the
phone
● Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment
immediately
● Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link
that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren’t hacked.
● Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before
donating.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, you can contact the Office of the Attorney General
at www.nmag.gov or call 1-844-255-9210 and press number 5. If the scam relates to insurance
or insurance coverage, you can call the Insurance fraud hotline at 1-877-807-4010 or report it
online at www.stopfraud.org
Check the OSI Website www.osi.state.nm.us for updates on COVID-19 related matters and
scams.
For more information about scam calls and texts, visit the FCC Consumer Help Center and the
FCC Scam Glossary. You can also file a complaint about such scams at
consumercomplaints.fcc.gov.
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