COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) on Wednesday issued a warning to residents as scammers seek to take advantage of benefits coming out of the American Rescue Plan.
To avoid falling victim to scammers, SCDCA released the following tips:
- You NEVER have to pay up-front for your stimulus money. No government agency is going to ask you to pay up-front fees to receive your stimulus payment. If someone contacts you saying they are from a government agency, hang up. It’s a scam. Consumers should also beware of promises to get you the money now; there is no way to speed up when stimulus money gets to you.
- No one will contact you asking for private information. Scammers often pose as government agencies to gain your trust. Lookout for calls and messages pretending to be from well-known organizations like the IRS. Fraudsters may try to get you to verify information like your bank account number, Social Security number or credit card information. Never give private information to someone who contacts you out-of-the-blue. Instead, hang up or delete the message and directly contact that business/agency.
- No legitimate business/agency will ask for unusual forms of payment. Unusual forms of payment include gift card, cryptocurrency or wire transfer. Scammers like these forms of payment because they are difficult to trace and you’ll likely never see that money again. No matter why the person says they need it, this a big scam red flag.
- Watch out for phishing emails or texts. Your inbox may be getting messages from impostors acting like trustworthy organizations. Remember, don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. Clicking on links in these messages could install malware or other dangerous programs on your computer/digital device. Guard against these scammers by keeping your computer software updated, using security software, changing your passwords at least every three months and using multi-factor authentication.