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Saturday, September 16, 2023

Stimulus Check Scams: Track Your Missing $1,400 And Avoid Getting Scammed

The IRS has sent out 169 million stimulus checks starting March 12 and they include millions of payments that are follow up or ‘plus-up payments. But millions are yet to receive even their first installment of the third stimulus check.

But given the scale of the operation, the Economic Impact Payment is allowed the luxury of a few glitches and there are ways you can ensure that you receive your payment.

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Close to $375 billion has been paid out and many more are on the way to people who have filed their 2020 tax returns near or after the May 17 deadline. These payments are either to first-time tax filers or people who will get a second check based on recalculation following fresh inputs from the 2020 returns.

Weekly Stimulus Checks To Cut Down On Backlog

The IRS has followed the system of paying every week. This cuts down on errors and ensures that backlogs do not pile up. Even in the second week of June, stimulus checks worth $4.2 billion were dispatched. These were sent out as both direct deposits into bank accounts and paper checks through the postal service.

Getting  Help Through The ‘Get My Payment’ Tool

Stimulus Check
Stimulus Check

The IRS has created the Get My Payment tool to help people keep track of their stimulus checks. the tool does not give you the amount sent by the IRS. But it informs you of the status of your stimulus check and the mode of payment, whether a direct bank deposit or a paper check or a debit card through the US postal service.

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You can also sign up for an account with the IRS, That should help you get substantial information on all your previous transactions.

If you know that your payment has been sent through the US Postal Service, you can log in to their free tool and track the package in real-time.

Informing The IRS Of Significant Changes That Affect Your Stimulus Check

You might have made changes that affect your dealings with the IRS. A change in your mailing address needs to be communicated instantly with both the IRS and the US postal service. A payment once returned will delay your payment significantly by as much as 2 months.

Changing your banks could also significantly affect your payment if the old account was linked with the IRS. A direct transfer that would have taken days will now be delayed as the stimulus check will be sent through the postal service that will take anywhere between 4 and 6 weeks to reach you.

The quickest way to avoid this situation or rectify it is to file your latest returns. That will help the IRS get your latest information and help them send your stimulus check to the right place.

Filing your taxes will also update the list of dependents including the birth of a child in 2020.  All dependents are eligible for the same amount of up to $1,400. You could be missing out on a significant amount if you do not update your details with the IRS through your 2020 returns.

Filing a return is not mandatory if your earnings are less than $12,400, and you are not making more through self-employment. But filing your returns even if you are not mandated to do so, helps your get your stimulus check earlier.

Check your bank for details of any incoming payments. Banks hold up the payment in case of post-dated payments from the IRS. This could delay your payment by a couple of weeks.

Check If You Are Eligible For The Payments

stimulus check
stimulus check

The $1,400 payments are based on your adjusted gross income and you need to check out if you are eligible for the stimulus check based on your income.

Individuals earning $75,000 or below are eligible for the full stimulus check payment of $1,400 per head. But the payment gets phased out for income above that and individuals earning above $80,000 will not receive any stimulus check. for married couples, the corresponding figures are $150,000 and $160,000.

A Warning From The IRS To Look Out For Fraudsters

The IRS has again issued a piece of advice to taxpayers to be careful of fraud that could target your stimulus payment. Identity thefts have been reported from across the country.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig brought up these issues and said that scam artists continue to target people during the pandemic.

The IRS released a list of common scams used by fraudsters to dupe people of their stimulus checks. Called The Dirty Dozen, the list includes the scams and schemes divided into 4 categories.

The elaborate scams that are being perpetrated include personal information scams, scams that focus on gullible victims, pandemic-related cons, and various schemes that lull taxpayers to take wrong actions that deprive them of their payments.

The IRS said that people should be alert for definite signs that reveal they might have been targeted by a fraudster.

Any message asking for personal details, phone calls telling people to part with bank details. Or suspicious emails will link should be avoided. Even opening an attachment of an email could lead to a loss of money.

Even theft of paper mail has been reported and people need to be alert for any incoming mail in the mailbox.

Signs Of A Stimulus Scam

The IRS has also notified that the agency never contacts tax-filers through email, phone, text messages, or social media. Parting with your Social Security number and other details through these mediums could be asking for trouble. Any such request for information is a sure sign of fraud.

Only the official IRS website, IRS.gov should be used for getting any form of information or for updating your details. All issues related to refunds, payments, plus other information should be only routed through this website.

Information stolen from multiple sources is then used to forge separate identities and then used to claim unclaimed stimulus checks. People who have not filed taxes or are unaware of the whole process are most likely to fall victim to such scams.

Taxpayers need to be on the lookout for Form 1099-G that reports unemployment compensation that they might not have received. This will alert them if any false claims are filed.

People who suspect that they might have been duped or could be relieved of their stimulus check by fraudsters should immediately contact the IRS and alert them to the situation.

If it is not possible to obtain a corrected form, taxpayers can complete their return by claiming just the compensation for unemployment plus any other income received.

The IRS has announced that they will release further information on frauds being committed concerning the stimulus checks.

You can go through the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list on the IRS.gov website and be aware of the possible scams when you file your returns and also around the year.

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