Has your information been stolen? The latest stimulus check scam could leave you vulnerable

Kristine Solomon
·5 min read

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Experts want you to avoid accidentally leaking your personal information to hackers as you wait for your stimulus check.
Experts want you to avoid accidentally leaking your personal information to hackers as you wait for your stimulus check.

Still waiting for your stimulus check to arrive? The Better Business Bureau (BBB) wants you to be on the lookout for scammers posing as government workers to trick you into sharing your personal information.

The BBB recently issued this warning after receiving numerous reports about fraudulent texts, emails and phone calls. The unsolicited messages are intended to mislead their victims, for example, a bogus text would prompt them to click a link to request their stimulus check, or scam users into providing their personal information.

Such solicitations are just fraudsters phishing for things like social security numbers or bank account information or trying to install viruses or malware into your device. The BBB expressed strong concern that they’ve already heard from numerous consumers complaining they had been contacted by scammers.

Why should U.S. taxpayers be horrified by stimulus check fraud?

Scammers try to catch you off guard as you anticipate of your stimulus payment. (Photo: Getty)
Scammers try to catch you off guard as you anticipate of your stimulus payment. (Photo: Getty)

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation (CI) division has intervened a number of times with regard to COVID-related financial scams, investigating fraud while keeping the coast clear for taxpayers to receive their stimulus checks — ideally without falling prey to the games played by identity thieves.

"Criminals seize on every opportunity to exploit bad situations, and this pandemic is no exception," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig back in June. "The IRS is fully focused on protecting Americans while delivering Economic Impact Payments in record time. The pursuit of those who participate in COVID-19 related scams, intentionally abusing the programs intended to help millions of Americans during these uncertain times, will long remain a significant priority of both the IRS and IRS-CI.”

Of course, Americans should be extra vigilant about pandemic fraudsters on the homefront, too. Because once they’re in your device, hackers wreak havoc, so the smartest thing you can do is keep them out.

Arm yourself against hackers with software like System Mechanic

System Mechanic is a comprehensive package. One of the many features it has is a security optimizer, which scans for holes in your PC that could let hackers, viruses and identity thieves gain access to your computer. But this tool will locate and install the latest plugs to help prevent security breaches.

It also addresses and fixes 30,000 different PC problems, from performing system-wide scans for junk and obsolete files to cleaning out hazardous system-clogging clutter that accumulates through everyday use. It also speeds up your PC’s performance by defragmenting your hard drive and healing chronically unstable internet connections.

In short, System Mechanic can help to make your PC more secure. The software monitors incoming information constantly, removes weak points, and deters hackers.

Want to dip your toe in the water before you dive in? Right now, System Mechanic is completely free for a 30-day trial. After that, you pay just $4.99 a month.

Shop it: System Mechanic, free trial for 30 days then $4.99 a month, subscriptions.yahoo.com

What can we learn about past stimulus check fraud — so history doesn’t repeat itself?

System Mechanic is powerful online security software. (Photo: Iolo Technologies)
System Mechanic is powerful online security software. (Photo: Iolo Technologies)

Busts in spring 2020 by the BBB, IRS and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should serve as a rude awakening to citizens across the U.S., because in order for online fraudsters to wipe out your bank account, they need access to the sensitive personal information you spend your whole life trying to protect. Investigators now know that identity thieves will stop at nothing, including exploiting your vulnerability and trust during a pandemic.

The IRS has always made it clear that they’ll never reach out to taxpayers via phone, text, email or social media, and that any contact you receive from them via anything other than U.S. postal mail should be ignored. Messages regarding stimulus checks should be treated in the same manner.

If you receive a text, email or phone call regarding your stimulus payment, the BBB recommends the following these best practices: resist the urge to act impulsively, and do not respond at all. If you think the message could be real, or just to quell your anxiety, Google the government agencies’ contact information and reach out to them directly.

Shop it: System Mechanic, free trial for 30 days then $4.99 a month, subscriptions.yahoo.com

A more comprehensive idea of what you get with System Mechanic

System Mechanic restores speed, power and stability to your PC. (Photo: Iolo Technologies)
System Mechanic restores speed, power and stability to your PC. (Photo: Iolo Technologies)

Want to know exactly what System Mechanic is doing under the hood of your PC? First of all, it tidies it up from the inside out. The software cleans up over 50 different types of junk files and regains thousands of megabytes of hard disk space.

It also troubleshoots. System Mechanic repairs broken internet connections and stops random crashes, restarts, and more. It finds and automatically fixes broken or corrupted Windows shortcut icons that are often at the root of “mystery” problems in an otherwise stable PC.

To ensure privacy, System Mechanic permanently removes deleted data, like internet history and cache. And keeps your computer speedy, running a comprehensive scan of over 200 critical tests in just a few minutes, using more than 30 tools.

This kind of performance helps to remove vulnerabilities, so you can know that your personal identity and that of everyone in your household is secure.

System Mechanic provides some of the most valuable service you’ll ever get for the price of a fancy cup of coffee.

Shop it: System Mechanic, free for 30 days then $4.99 a month, subscriptions.yahoo.com

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