Some nursing homes are taking residents’ stimulus checks, FTC warns

Scammers already preying on the possibility of a second stimulus check

(CNN) – Nursing homes have no claim to their residents' stimulus checks. That hasn't stopped some facilities from trying to take them anyway.

The Federal Trade Commission reported that that nursing homes in several states are requesting residents sign over their stimulus checks. The facilities may say they get to keep the payment if a patient is on Medicaid, which isn't true, said Lois Greisman, the FTC's Elder Justice Coordinator.

Here's why: The stimulus checks are considered tax credits per the CARES Act, which is providing economic relief to people and businesses. Those tax credits don't count as "resources" for federal benefit programs like Medicaid, so the government cannot claim them, and neither can the nursing homes.

"This is not just a horror story making the rounds," Greisman said. "These are actual reports that our friends in the Iowa Attorney General's Office have been getting -- and handling. Other states have seen the same."

Greisman urged facility owners to report the practice and return the money. Residents and their family members should contact their state attorney general's office, she said. And if you're not sure whether you're being swindled, the FTC has a resource to identify common coronavirus scams.

READ MORE: Beware of these fake coronavirus scams

Stimulus check scams appeared before the first check was even issued. Since March, phony websites, texts, emails and robocalls asked people for their personal or financial information to receive their checks, claiming to work for the federal government. Some links may contain malware that can steal the user’s private information so scammers could claim their checks.