FBI warns Americans on stimulus scams

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — As the spread of coronavirus continues, so does the spike in scammers.

“In addition to all the health-related guidance that officials are issuing to keep people properly informed, it is equally important for people to be on the lookout for scams,” Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) said on March 5.

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The month of March saw more than 27,000 scams reported to the Better Business Bureau — a number the BBB says has risen significantly due to COVID-19.

“It’s what we’re referring to as the perfect storm for scammers,” Chattanooga Better Business Bureau President Jim Winsett said.

These scams can take on many forms. Whether it’s offering miracle cure drugs, or trying to sell protective clothing like masks at high prices, Winsett says check email addresses and URLs very closely.



“Our advice is to be very much aware as to what’s happening,” Winsett said. “We’re spending a lot of idle time on the internet, getting emails and those type things. But whatever services you need, be an educated consumer. Do your research. Do you due diligence.”

Another hot target for scammers is your stimulus check. The FBI is warning you not to fall victim to calls, texts, emails or websites asking for any kind of personal information to receive or rush your federal payment.

Remember, if you filed your taxes online, you’ll get a direct deposit. Otherwise, check your mailbox, and nowhere else, for that money.

“If you see or hear things that sound too good to be true, as we’ve always said, if it sounds too good to be true, there’s a high probability that it would not be true,” Winsett said.

Officials say you’ll receive a notice by mail no later than 15 days after the check was sent — telling you how much you’re getting and how you’ll receive the money. You’ll also get an IRS phone number to call if you have questions.

You can also go to the Better Business Bureau’s website to report any scams and see scams that have been reported near you. The BBB has also set up a Coronavirus specific website to answer all your questions.