CT Officials Warn of Coronavirus Relief Scams

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Officials in Connecticut are warning about scams in which people could try and get money being sent to many Americans as part of the coronavirus relief packages.

Attorney General William Tong said to be wary of emails that ask for information or include a link to a fake Census site under the guise that you need to enter information to get a stimulus check.

"Don't give out information over the phone. Don't give out information over the Internet. If you get an email that says you have to give this information to get a stimulus check, that is not true. If you get an email that says you have to fill out your Census information to get a stimulus check, that is not true," Tong said.

He said people should fill out their Census questionnaire online, but do not fill it out through a link that comes via email.

Go directly to the U.S. Census website.

"Don't respond to someone reaching out to you and saying, 'give me info in order to get a check,'" Tong said,

The Better Business Bureau serving Connecticut said last week that it was already getting reports on BBB Scam Tracker (BBB.org/ScamTracker) about government imposters calling and texting about the checks.

The BBB warns residents to watch out for phishing attempts that ask for personal and banking information in order to receive your check.

How the Coronavirus Relief Scam Works:

The BBB says one scam is a message or social media post claiming that you qualify for a special COVID-19 government grant.

If you click the link, you get to what seems to be an official website asking you to enter your personal information and/or banking details. It also says it’s necessary” to verify your identity and process your grant.

BBB Scam Tracker has received reports of people being contacted through text message, social media posts and messages and phone calls.

BBB has received reports of a Facebook post telling seniors about a special grant to help pay medical bills.  The link leads to a website claiming to be a government agency called the "U.S. Emergency Grants Federation," which is not legitimate and requests your Social Security number.

In other versions, scammers claim that you can get additional money – up to $150,000 in one case – or even receive your funds immediately and you need to share personal details and pay a small “processing fee.”

BBB urges you not to click and warms that in addition to taking your money, the sites also can also download malware and use your information for identity theft.

Tips to Spot a COVID-19 Grant Scam:

Government agencies do not communicate through social media avenues like Facebook. So, be wary of unsolicited messages. 

Do not pay any money for a "free" government grant. If you have to pay money to claim a "free" government grant, it's not really free. A real government agency will not ask you to pay an advanced processing fee. The only official list of all U.S. federal grant-making agencies is Grants.gov. 

Check for look-alikes. Do your research and see if a government agency or organization actually exists. Find contact info on your own and call them to be sure the person you’ve heard from is legitimate.

Avoid clicking links sent by text message. It is extremely unlikely that the government will text you and ask you to follow a link and enter personal information in order to confirm your identity and baking details.

Don’t assume an offer in a social media message is from a real friend. Scammers can impersonate real people on social media. Call your friend to verify it was they contacted you (and share this Scam Alert with them if they are spreading false information).

How Much Money Could You Get from the Coronavirus Stimulus

You can use this calculator to see how much money you could be getting.

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