Attorney General warns of CARES Act stimulus scams

(The Center Square) – Illinois’ Attorney General is warning residents to stay vigilant and report scams involving planned federal economic stimulus payments.

As part of the $2.2 trillion federal CARES Act, people who earn up to $75,000 a year and married couples who earn up to $150,000 a year will get one-time direct payments of up to $1,200 for individuals who pay taxes and $2,400 for married couples, plus $500 per child, according to a news release from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

“We know without a doubt that scammers will to try to steal money and information from hardworking Illinoisans who are suffering under the COVID-19 pandemic,” Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a statement. “As much as it disappoints me that there is a need to continue warning people of scams being perpetrated by individuals trying to take advantage of the crisis, I want our residents to know the hallmarks of a scam so that they can avoid them.”

Raoul urged people to not respond to email messages, text messages, letters or phone calls regarding the CARES Act stimulus package that request personal information or ask recipients to click on a link. Such messages likely are sent by scammers to steal personal information.

Raoul also said consumers who have loans with ACH authorization for loan payments (an automatic withdrawal from their bank account common in payday, title and other small dollar loans) to take action to ensure their stimulus payment won’t be taken by their lender if they are behind on their loan. He said borrowers can contact their lenders to request a payment plan.

Raoul also provided tips for residents:

You do not have to pay money. There is no fee or cost for you to receive the stimulus payment.The government will not demand personal information first. If you are contacted by someone who claims to work for the government and requests your Social Security number or bank account information in order to release your stimulus funds, that person is a scammer.You don’t need to apply. Most Americans will receive their stimulus payments automatically.Do not pay for assistance applying for stimulus money. You do not need to apply and should disregard offers from anyone who offers to help you to apply for the stimulus payment in exchange for money.

Information about the CARES Act is available on the Internal Revenue Service website at IRS.gov.

Scams connected to the COVID-19 outbreak can be reported via the Attorney General’s website.

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