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Economic stimulus stimulating lots of fraud

The economy isn't the only thing getting a (alleged) boost from the government's economic stimulus checks, being sent out to taxpayers beginning this past week. The political windfall is also stimulating a lot of creative fraud as well.

According to story on MarketWatch, scammers are calling and emailing consumers posing as the IRS or the Social Security Administration. The callers tell consumers they need detailed bank account information or Social Security numbers in order to process their economic stimulus checks. Those consumers who fall for the scam and reveal this information are then subject to identity theft.

The story recommends some steps consumers can take to prevent getting so scammed.
  • Don't ever give out personal information such as bank account numbers, Social Security number or Mother's Maiden name to unsolicited callers.
  • Keep in mind that the IRS will NEVER call you in regards to the stimulus package. The Social Security Administration is unlikely to call you out of the blue, either. Also, remember that you'll only get a check if you filed a tax return this year.
  • Don't click on any links in unsolicited emails -- they may take you to a fraudulent site. Fraudsters these days can create very sophisticated websites that look almost like the real thing. Once there, they will prompt you for information. Don't give it out. If you want to go to the actual IRS site, go to www.irs.gov.
  • If someone calls you and says they're from a government agency, hang up, and call the agency yourself. The FTC keeps a list of government agencies and contact numbers here.
If you filed a tax return this year, be patient -- the check is in the mail, as they say. Wondering when you'll get yours? Check here to find out.

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