On Monday, Congress passed a COVID relief bill that includes direct payments of $600 to American households that make less than $150,000 per year. If you’re in that category and not a dependent or already on disability, then you’ve likely got some money coming your way. However, scammers are going to take advantage of this situation in an attempt to get your information.
Here’s what you need to know about the COVID relief checks and how you can avoid getting scammed by people trying to steal your information.
Like last time, the checks will be apportioned out based on your previous tax returns. If you filed your taxes in 2020 and opted for a direct deposit of your refund (if you received a refund) then you’ll be getting your relief check as a direct deposit. People who direct deposited the money are also likely to see their checks much sooner.
Some people will be receiving paper checks, however, if they don’t have direct deposit on file with the US government. These will likely take a bit longer to get out, but the payments should likely be in before January 15, as per the language of the spending bill.
The checks are for every American who makes under a set threshold. The payment begins to phase out at $75,000 per year for a single person, and hits zero at $87,000. For married couples the payments start to shrink at $150,500 and zero at $174,000.
If you are claimed as a dependent by someone else, you won’t be getting any money. Instead, whoever claimed you gets an extra $600 on top of the initial $600. This payment is largely immune to garnishment by the government, though banks might still garnish them if you have outstanding debt settlement agreements with them.
If someone calls you saying that your relief check has been held up and that they need your credit card number or bank account info to get the money to you, then you’re hearing a scam. The government will contact you through more secure methods than a phone call should they need to clarify information relating to your relief check.
Likewise, ignore any emails from fishy addresses that claim to have your check and need money or information to free it up. Your check will arrive by a method that is much more secure: either in the mail via a paper check or as a direct deposit to your bank account. Don’t be fooled!