April 21, 2020
Consumer Alert: The Division of Consumer Protection Urges New Yorkers to be Aware of COVID-19 Scams Tied to Federal Economic Impact Payments
Scammers Using A Variety of Methods Tied to COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments to Target Consumers
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) is alerting consumers about scammers taking advantage of COVID-19. Scammers are sending phishing emails, texts, phone calls and social media to try to steal economic impact payments and your personal information. Consumers are reminded that it’s important to stay vigilant and aware of unsolicited communications asking for your personal or private information.
“While much of New York State has been on ‘PAUSE’ in the midst of this unprecedented public health crisis, unscrupulous scammers have been hard at work preying on unsuspecting New Yorkers,” said Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “I urge all New Yorkers to be extra diligent and follow simple steps to keep your money and personal identity safe.”
New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Michael Schmidt said, “Taxpayers and tax preparers must be especially wary during this unprecedented time. Cyber thieves are asking taxpayers or tax preparers to verify banking information via a phone call or link that goes to a fake website, where unsuspecting victims enter their private information. These are classic phone scam and phishing scheme tactics that can be avoided by following a few simple tips. For the most up-to-date information on the Economic Impact Payments, and to support Governor Cuomo’s awareness campaign, the Tax Department has launched an Economic Impact Payment information: what you need to know web page and is doing direct outreach to taxpayers who may not automatically receive the payments they're owed.”
Interim New York State Office of Information Technology Services Chief Information Officer Jeremy M. Goldberg said, “Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, NYS has recognized and responded to the very real and emerging cyber threats impacting New Yorkers, including by safeguarding your personal information, minimizing our risk, and bringing you the latest best practices in cyber hygiene. New Yorkers should be wary of anyone who calls, texts, or emails them claiming to share COVID-19 information from the IRS, and instead should follow the suggested tips on our ‘Stay Cyber Safe’ website.”
What You Need to Know about Economic Impact Payments
You don’t need to take any action to automatically receive your stimulus payment if you:
- Social Security retirement benefits and survivor benefits
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and survivor benefits
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits
- Railroad Retirement and survivor benefits
- Veterans Administration compensation (disability, death benefits etc.) or retirement benefits
While most people will receive their payment automatically, if you otherwise have not filed taxes recently, you may need to submit a simple Federal tax return to get your check. For more information on the Economic Impact Payments, New Yorkers should visit the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance at Economic Impact Payment information: what you need to know or the IRS at Economic Impact Payments.
Below are tips to help keep your economic impact payment and personal information safe from scammers:
With assistance from ITS, the Department of Health continues to maintain up-to-date “Stay Cyber Safe” tips and active warnings at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/stay-cyber-safe.
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection serves to educate, assist and empower the State’s consumers. For more consumer protection information, call the DCP Helpline at 800-697-1220, Monday through Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm or visit the DCP website at www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection. The Division can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at www.facebook.com/nysconsumer