Scammers use census and stimulus checks to target consumers

Local News

Many Americans are waiting for stimulus checks from the federal government, and scammers are banking on that. They’re trying to fool you by saying your money is connected to the 2020 census.

Better Business Bureau South Dakota director Jessie Schmidt says scammers are trying create some confusion.

“They’re criminals. Just as somebody who would come to rob you at your own home. They have no conscience,” Schmidt said.

In this scam, they tell you you won’t get your stimulus check until you’ve completed the census. Scammers email or text you fake links that’ll download malware to your devices.

“They use that to mine all the data so when you go on to your next banking app, and you’re putting in your username and password, they’ll pull all of that information out,” Schmidt said.

Here’s how to prevent them from stealing your personal and financial information. Schmidt says, first of all, the census is not linked to your stimulus check.

“The Census Bureau is separate from the Internal Revenue Service,” Schmidt said.

Secondly, the federal government isn’t going to email or text you.

“You’re only going to get an email or a phone call if you have reached out to them,” Schmidt said.

The pandemic has created new avenues for scammers to target consumers. 40-percent of scams reported to scam tracker have to do with COVID-19. Whether you’re financially secure, or you need the check to make ends meet; Schmidt says you’re a target for scammers who want to take advantage of you in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It just goes to show you, they don’t care who they steal money from,” Schmidt said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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