Avoiding CARES Act Scams

The recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or "CARES Act," was created to provide relief for individuals and businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. This $2 trillion stimulus package was put together with multiple provisions aimed at helping those in different circumstances. Key initiatives include: direct payments for individuals and families, small business relief programs and extensions to unemployment, to name just a few.

As the Pandemic takes a growing toll on people’s pocketbooks, the government will soon be sending money by check or direct deposit to many of us. While some of the details are still being worked out, you should still be cognizant that this is also a time when fraudsters and scam artists will be looking to take advantage of the confusion. As a result, please remember:
  • The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. No fees, charges or anything. 
  • The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer. 
  • These reports of checks haven’t been processed yet. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
While we’d normally wait to know exactly how the payment plan would work before posting a message like this, these aren’t normal times. There is little doubt that scammers are gearing up to take advantage of this situation.

So, remember: no matter how these programs are ultimately structured, only scammers will ask you to pay to get them. If you spot one of these scams, please tell the Federal Trade Commission: www.ftc.gov/complaint. We’re doing our best to stop these scammers in their tracks, and your report will help. To see how easy it is to report a scam to the FTC, check out the short video above.

Keep up to date with the latest Coronavirus-related scams at www.ftc.gov/coronavirus or by signing up to get these consumer alerts.
Source – Consumer Information, Federal Trade Commission – “Checks From the Government,”
March 18, 2020