Here we go again, scammers are using the recent headlines about the stimulus package to take advantage of people looking for a handout. Emails promising to help you qualify for a chunk of the new spending program in exchange for a small fee or some personal information are popping up in inboxes, according to the FTC.
The FTC says:
E-mail messages may ask for bank account information so that the operators can deposit consumers’ share of the stimulus directly into their bank account. Instead, the scammers drain consumers’ accounts of money and disappear. Or bogus e-mail may appear to be from government agencies and ask for information to “verify” that you qualify for a payment. The scammers use that information to commit identity theft. Some e-mail scams don’t ask for information, but provide links to find out how to qualify for funds. By clicking on the links, consumers have downloaded malicious software or spyware that can be used to make them a victim of identity theft.
“Web sites may advertise that they can help you get money from the stimulus fund. Many use deceptive names or images of President Obama and Vice President Biden to suggest they are legitimate. They’re not,” says Eileen Harrington, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Don’t fall for it. If you do, you’ll get scammed.”
Some of the scammers ask for a small amount of money, less than $2, but paying them could end up costing you “hundreds or thousands of dollars,” says the FTC. Either the scammers use the payment to get your credit card number, or they enter you into an agreement that could cost you big bucks if you don’t cancel.
If you’ve been scammed or to report a potential scam, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).