Federal and state agencies are warning recipients of Social Security to watch out for scammers ready to trick retired and disabled people into giving up financial information or other sensitive personal information in return for their stimulus checks.
The warnings come just before the federal government is set to send out $13 billion in economic stimulus through checks of $250 to 52 million individuals on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a program for elderly, blind, or disabled low-income people.
According to The Wall Street Journal, there's been word of cyberscams.
For instance, Mark Hinkle, a spokesman for the Social Security Administration, says his agency has heard anecdotal reports of Internet frauds, perpetrated via email, that urge recipients to click on links to Web sites that resemble the Social Security Administration's site. There, victims are asked to divulge personal information, such as Social Security and bank-account numbers -- ostensibly in order to receive stimulus checks. The scammers then clean out victims' bank accounts or steal their identities.
The AARP also told WSJ that other scammers are exploiting confusion surrounding how an individual qualifies for the $250 check. During last year's round of economic stimulus, recipients had to file a tax return. That's not so for this round of economic stimulus: if you receive Social Security, you'll get a check from the Social Security Administration. Therefore, anyone that tells a recipient that they need to fill out a form or get charged a fee for filing is lying.
"No action at all is required," Hinkle told WSJ. "You don't have to fill out or file anything, make any phone calls or go to any Web sites."