Troubleshooters: Warning on fake stimulus checks, phishing scams

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola WPVI logo
Thursday, May 14, 2020
Troubleshooters: Warning on fake stimulus checks, phishing scams
The Troubleshooters are making sure your stimulus money ends up in your pocket and not someone else's.

The Action News Troubleshooters are making sure your stimulus money ends up in your pocket and not someone else's.

From fake stimulus checks to new phishing emails there are lots of ways scammers are trying to get your money.

As more Americans file for unemployment and stimulus checks continue to hit bank accounts, warning are being issued about a new influx of schemes that are hard to spot.

"The fraud-based attempts for phishing are highly sophisticated. Specifically, what we're seeing is the spoofing of your bank or credit union phone number," said Lori Hidges, Visa's vice president of North America Risk.

So don't trust the number you see on your Caller ID and do not answer it. Scammers will then claim they're trying to fix an issue with your account and their hope is you'll provide sensitive information.

"Your bank or credit union will not call you to ask you for information, personal information," said Hodges.

Call your bank directly if you get a suspicious call. And contact your bank directly using a number you know is legitimate.

"They authenticate you when you call them. So that's critical," said Hodges.

Many of us have now set our accounts for two-factor authentication, meaning when you try to log into your account, especially from a new device, you'll get sent a one-time passcode.

"If they are asking for that passcode, they are in the process of attempting a takeover on your account," said Hodges.

Also, make sure you know what a real stimulus check looks like so you can spot a bogus one.

There are three security features you can look for on a real U.S. Treasury check:

-Microprinting on the back: using a magnifying glass, the endorsement line should contain the words "USAUSAUSA."

-Also check for bleeding ink: the U.S. Treasury seal, located to the right of the Statue of Liberty, contains security ink that turns reddish when moisture is applied.

-And look for the "U.S. Treasury" watermark: On a real check, you will see it from both the front and the back but only when you hold it up to light.

And if you think you may have fallen victim to fraud, the U.S. Secret Service urges you to report it.

"We need those key pieces of information to start our investigations. And if you call us and notify us of a scam, there's a possibility that will prevent somebody else from becoming a victim," said Thomas Edwards of the U.S. Secret Service.

You should also call your bank or credit union immediately. That way they can close your card or account and issue you new numbers and dispute any fraudulent transactions on your behalf.


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