85ºF

These are the top stimulus check scams and how to avoid them

HOUSTON – Houston area residents are going for walks, bicycle rides and strolls.

The last thing on their minds in the middle of a pandemic being the victim of a scam.

However, whether by mail, phone or door knocks scammers are working to get stimulus dollars.

Ryan Patrick the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas expressed his concerns in an interview with Channel 2 Investigates Monday.

“I am incredibly concerned about the fraud that could be related to these stimulus checks,” he said.

Patrick oversees a region that covers 43 counties and 9 million people.

“We’re going to have problems from Houston all the way down to Laredo and it is my job to go after all of these scumbags that are preying on people,” said Patrick.

Patrick made one thing clear to Channel 2 Investigates: crooks are aware that millions have questions and concerns over their stimulus checks and use it to their advantage.

“These scammers know they can call just about anybody in the country and automatically have an in for a conversation with them,” said Patrick.

The Texas Public Interest Research Group has tips on how to spot a scam.

“The government will never use the word stimulus check or stimulus payment. Instead, they are going to use an economic impact payment,” said Bay Scoggin, Director of TexPIRG Director.

The word stimulus in a message is not the only red flag, according to Scoggin. He also warns to be on the lookout for contact via phone call, email, text or other social media avenues.

Moreover, be aware of offers of a faster payment or tax refund as well as any false checks that end up in your mailbox.

The bottom line for Scoggin?

“I think certainly scammers are aware of people’s insecurities right now.”

Top 6 stimulus check scams

  • Fake checks 
  • Social media messages 
  • Fake social security number requests
  • Small Business Administration loan scams
  • Processing fees
  • Cash advances

Source: Texas Public Interest Research Group