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Coronavirus stimulus payment scams: What you need to know

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We know there’s been a flood of information and updates about the government’s economic impact payments, or so-called stimulus checks, lately. But quickly and safely moving massive amounts of money into the hands of those who need it is a big job with a lot of moving parts.

We also know that the more you know about the process, the less likely you’re going to be tripped up by calls, text messages, or emails from scammers trying to steal your money or personal information.

Here’s what you need to know about the stimulus payments and how to avoid scams related to these payments.

Who will get money?

Adult U.S. residents that meet established income limits are eligible to receive money from the government. This includes:

Taxpayers – people who filed a federal tax return for 2018 or 2019.

Retirees – people who get Social Security, Railroad, or other retirement benefits.

Beneficiaries – people who get public benefits like SSDI, disability, or veterans’ benefits.

Non-filers – people who do not have to file a federal tax return, including people who made no income or made less than $12,200 (or $24,400 for married couples).

If you get Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits, have a qualifying child, and didn’t file a return in 2018 or 2019, you have to take action by noon ET on Wednesday, April 22 to add the $500 per eligible child to your payment. See details from the IRS.

What to do

Most people don’t have to do anything to get their money because the IRS will use the same payment method – direct deposit, Direct Express debit card, or paper check – used to send you your tax refund, Social Security, retirement, or other government benefits money. If the IRS doesn’t have your direct deposit information, you can go to the “Get My Payment” feature at irs.gov/coronavirus and let them know where to send your direct deposit.

If you don’t usually file a tax return, go to irs.gov/coronavirus to access the “Non-filer” portal and to figure out what, if anything, you have to do to claim your money.

To check on the status of your payment, you can now use the “Get My Payment” feature at irs.gov/coronavirus.

Avoiding Coronavirus stimulus payment scams

Scammers are using these stimulus payments to try to rip people off. They might try to get you to pay a fee to get your stimulus payment. Or they might try to convince you to give them your Social Security number, bank account, or government benefits debit card account number.

4 tips for avoiding a Coronavirus stimulus payment scam

  1. Only use irs.gov/coronavirus to submit information to the IRS – and never in response to a call, text, or email.
  2. The IRS won’t contact you by phone, email, text message, or social media with information about your stimulus payment, or to ask you for your Social Security number, bank account, or government benefits debit card account number. Anyone who does is a scammer phishing for your information.
  3. You don’t have to pay to get your stimulus money.
  4. The IRS won’t tell you to deposit your stimulus check then send them money back because they paid you more than they owed you. That’s a fake check scam.

Report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.

To keep up with the latest scams, sign up for the FTC's consumer alerts.

(This post is part of the FTC's imposter scam series.)

Updated April 21, 2020 with new deadline for some benefit recipients.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

I'VE BEEN TRYING TO GET SOME INFORMATION ABOUT MY STIMULUS CHECK, HOWEVER, CAN'T GET THROUGH ON MY PHONE AND DON'T HAVE A LAPTOP. I FILED 2018 TAXES, BUT NOT 2019. MY INFORMATION IS THE SAME. PLEASE ADVISE. THANKS, DONNA KAY BARGERON

You shouldn't need to do anything. They will go off of your information from 2018 the IRS has said if you did not file 2019. As long as your direct deposit info is on your 2018 return you will be fine. Otherwise, they will mail a check to the address they have on file for you (also comes from your 2018 return). So you should be good to go! Hope this helps!

I have tried and tried to submit the nonfilers form from my phone but it won't let me, I don't have a computer or laptop.what do I do about submitting the form

The IRS will use your 2018 taxes. If you did not have direct deposit info on your tax return they will send you a check

I am on ssi and i assumed that the IRS has my direct deposit but when i try using the "get my payment" portal it ask me to imput my bank info. Then it ask "do i owe taxes or did i receive a refund. It doesnt apply to me because i receive SSI and dont pay taxes. But i can't go any further unless i click on one of those circles. If i leave it blank it geves me an error. What do i do with that option?.. Sorry for the long question.

I'm not an expert in any way, but I've been told that folks with SSI don't need to do anything, you should receive it in the same way as your regular monthly payment. But I haven't heard of anyone getting it yet.

On you phone while filing out the form look at the top right of your phone click the 3 dots and scroll down and click on desktop site and you'll be able to fill the form out correctly and finish it the form will fit your screen size... I had the same issue

You will still get a check. The next payout is May 1st. Go online and check again.

It's odd, I Did Get my Stimulus check, but I am disabled and I had a very small job with only a few hours per week but I still filed both State and Federal and got a little bit back...this was for the 2018 year and my Social Security Check always, every month comes by Direct Deposit. So, my point is that the IRS definitely knows my Direct Deposit Info. And I still got my Stimulus Check in the mail! I am not complaining, but I thought others should know.
Another thing to note is that people are very upset because they are under the impression that everybody else has already gotten their check, and please forgive the caps, but THIS IS NOT THE CASE! In fact, it is, as of May 24th, just barely creeping past the 30% mark. So, 70% of the US is still waiting for their stimulus check! And if you think about it, that's not surprising. Imagine trying to get checks to 630,000,000 Americans. 630 million adults! This is not including the children of the adults, which, in many cases, is an extra $500 for each child! A couple of friends of mine, a married couple, have 3 kids. So, all together, they got $3900! That's almost 4 Grand!

Thank you so much, you do great work for all of us. Please keep well.

The irs where is my payment will still not let you add in you direct deposit info Just says not available and logs you out

The irs.gov/coronavirus Get My Payment page has information about updating bank accounts.

What do I put in the refund or amount paid box when it is 0 for both.

You put the number “1”

Do 1 go in both boxes

I used to get the payment status not avaiable error now it says my information doesnt match. It erases my social security number as though that is the issue but i know its correct. Any feedback?

Mine does the same thing. I'd like an answer as to why

Says my info does not match info on file and erases my ss# which is correct.

my case also same. first visit was "not available" since second visit "information not much with record" my ssn is totally correct.
I'd like to know why.

Exact same for both my husband and my info. We've been checking every few days for almost 2 weeks. We have entered our SSN with and without the dashes. Starting to get concerned and frustrated.

Regarding the 'Get Your Payment' site where you can add your direct deposit information...One question is:
"Did you receive a refund or did you owe money? *
For the tax year associated with the Adjusted Gross Income above, select whether you received a refund or owed money.

I received a refund
I owed money
Refund Amount or Amount You Owed *
Enter the whole dollar amount from your tax return, without a dollar sign ($), period (.), or comma (,). For example: 1234

There is no option for anyone who did not owe money or receive a refund. If you leave it blank, you get an error indicating that you must answer the question. I tried checking a box and putting '0' as the amount answer but I got an error message that it didn't match their records. I tried sending an e-mail about this, but never got a response.
I have no way to get any information and I'm certain I'm not alone.

The IRS has questions and answers about what you can, and can't, do on the Get My Payment page. 

I looked on the questions and answers page you suggested for how to answer the question about if I owed or received a refund, which I did not owe or receive a refund, and there is no information on how to answer this question. I AM STUCK HERE. Help!!! :/

Did you ever get your question answered? I am in the same boat and always gets kicked out of the program because there is no option for reporting no tax owed and no refund received.

I put $1.00 and it let me thru to the next question!

I’m having same exact issue myself. I’m so frustrated.

I encountered the same situational problem, whenever I tried using my information from my 2019 tax return filed in 2020; then I hit upon the idea to use the data from the older 2018 return.....success! I paid nor was due refund for 2019. For 2018 I had a small taxable gambling income... so the numbers were different from 18-19. I agree about the missing choices about paid no tax--refund not due, in 2019....much confusion trying to get beyond that question.... SO, try your 2018 tax return information! I hope this helps

Hi, where is it that you can change that information. My 2019 tax return still says processing so I am not sure if that is holding it up.

My son was having the same issue ..so we figured he wasn't going to get one. Well he got a check in the mail today. He called me and asked what does he do ...I told him there's nothing because no one will answer the phone. I hope they resolve it soon for everyone else. Just keep an eye out for ur check or account .... Btw we check this 2 weeks ago .... I'm sorry I hope this helps

I am having the same problem and the faqs does not have any information to answer this issue.

The post might not send me my check because I changed my mailing address but they said they can hold my mail will I still be able to get the check because they gonna hold my mail

Where is my payment that was scheduled for April 29 direct deposit

There is nothing to address this on the IRS Questions and Answers page as you advised. So, if you owe 0, do you indicate refund or that you owe money? Saw article in Time that IRS is aware and will fix, but when will that happen?

I'm having the same problem with $0 owed and $0 return, but the field won't accept it. Very frustrating.

I am having the same problem , 0 owed 0 refund.. and they won't let me submit either....did not have to file but did not know that at the time....I am retired on Social Security have got my check either way...This is just not right for none of us...

Me too. I keep getting technical difficulties pages try back later. There is no info regarding non filler and we obviously don't have tax info or a return or owe for those years. I think we are locked out for 24 hrs. Very frustrating

Put $1 in the amount box

Ok, when you filed your taxes for what every year your useing 2018 or 2019, now did you own them money,like did you have to pay them a certain amount? If yes then your going to hit I owns money then the amount owned. Or did you get a return of money for that year. Like they sent you a check? If so you hit return, then the,amount they gave you.

I finally was able to get into Get My Payment today for the first time to enter my bank using my 2018 return. We had a tax preparer submit our return electronically. For the question of taxes owed or refund, I had neither. My "refund " was applied to 2019 taxes. So when I enter the refund amount -- it generates an error message, does not match our records.
Same thing when I enter 0.

When will this glitch be fixed?

There is no mention of this in the questions and answers.

You just put in $1.00 in the area where it asks for interest , contributions ,etc . under the interest box put $1.00 you have to put something in some box and when it continues you down to which financial institution , put Stimulus Payment . that way when you check your Wheres my Refund , as amount of refund , you put $1.00

I filed as a non filer. What do I put under "get my payment" ?? Please help!

You're not alone. Overpayment for 2018 was credited to 2019. Got the same "does not match our records" message. I'll check back, but it looks like I'll be waiting for a check in the mail.

Same

I am in the same boat.

Hi te am watting for the money that the government is sposto send out and am thanking that am not going to get one and I have paid my taxes to for a very long time and I think that I shud get one because of the fact that I move to Colorado and I have given my new address to the post office and I am wondering if you have got the check form the guvrenmt yet thank you jeff hanson

I get the same thing. Is anyone reading this and trying to correct it? It says to use line 22 of 2018 return and that line is blank!!

Same thing. I E filed my 2018. Both my adjusted gross income and refund are on the IRS page when I log into my account. But I take those exact numbers and plug them in and it says doesn't match our records. And the line they say to get totals don't exist in my taxes on those forms.

I am eligible for a payment. When I entered both my AGI and the amount I owed straight off of my taxes for both '18 and 19 I get a " The amount you entered does not match our records" error. I checked every number before I submitted it and now I am locked out for 24 hours. What gives?

This is happening to me as well. I am looking directly on the tax return. I am not sure what to do. I even went to the IRS website and got the number directly from my transcript.

I had the same issue today too. I'm thinking maybe the original amount owed on the tax form is no longer correct, due to penalties and fees that may have been assessed/added ... We may need to use the original amount PLUS any penalties and enter that as the owed amount? Otherwise, I am not sure what the problem may be....

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