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BBB, government warn of stimulus scams

Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer according to FEMA, the FTC. In reality, the money will take several weeks to arrive.

SAN DIEGO — The Better Business Bureau and government agencies are warning consumers to look out for scams involving the recently approved stimulus package.

There are several claims of people receiving texts, calls and emails asking them to “apply” for the stimulus money or saying they are “pre-approved” to expedite their money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, FEMA and the Federal Trade Commission confirm “anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.”

In reality, the money will take several weeks to arrive.

“What they want is your name, your address, your social security number, your bank information, supposedly, so they can put money in, but they’ll just take money out,” said Jim Temmer with the Better Business Bureau.

The government will not call, email or text you to receive stimulus money. Any communication will come by mail.

“We’re spending a lot of time online. That’s where the scams come from. It’s email, social media that type of thing and right now is a very emotional and fearful time and that’s what scammers prey on,” explained Tim Maniscalo with the BBB.

Many claims involve ways to receive $1,000 from the government, but the stimulus check for most Americans who have an adjusted gross income of less than $75,000 will be $1,200.

Money will be deposited in the same account used for direct deposit of your most recent income tax refund or by check if you did not provide account information to the Internal Revenue Service.

Here are the answers to some common stimulus questions:

How much money will I receive?
It depends on your income. Generally, if you have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less you will receive $1,200. The income limit and stimulus amount is doubled for married couples.

The payment decreases for higher-income earners. If you earn more than $99,000 or couples with an AGI of more than $198,000 will not receive anything.

Parents with children 16 and younger will receive $500 for each child.

Do I have to apply or fill out a form?
No, the government is using data from your most recent tax return.

How many payments will I receive?

One, for now, but Americans may receive more money if more stimulus bills are passed with more payments to taxpayers.

How do I find my adjusted gross income?

Look at line 8b on your most recent 1040 return.

How will I get my money?

The IRS will directly deposit the money in the account used for tax business in your filing. If you did not provide account information then you will receive a check at the last address used to file taxes.

When will I get my money?

Likely mid-to-late April.

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NEWS 8 joined forces with The San Diego Foundation to raise IMMEDIATE, EMERGENCY FUNDS for our most vulnerable neighbors in need. Here is how you can help. 

BACKGROUND: 

According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing. 

Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 

  • Stay home when you are sick. 

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. 

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. 

The CDC also says facemasks should only be used by people who show symptoms of the virus. If you’re not sick, you do not have to wear a facemask.