Stimulus Check Update: The 3 Most Outrageous Stimulus Scams and Hoaxes Making the Rounds

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  • Social media is the ideal place for scammers to find victims.
  • At the moment, there is no news of new stimulus on the way.

As Mom always said, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

If you get your news from social media, stop. It's there that scammers find their most receptive audience, people who not only fall for scams but cheerfully pass them along to their friends. Take these three ridiculous cases for example. Each scam or hoax is specifically designed to separate you from your money.

1. Ridiculous Facebook video

On Feb. 15, a split-screen video began to circulate on Facebook. On one side of the screen was President Joe Biden giving a speech. On the other, the president was "signing an executive order." Someone (pretending to be Biden but sounding nothing like him), says, "Some people will start seeing those direct deposits in their bank accounts this weekend. Payments to eligible Americans will continue throughout the course of the next several weeks."

It's tough to say what's worse: The fact that someone went to the trouble to put the video together and get people's hope up, or that anyone believed the hoax. It did not take a lot of effort to realize that the video was lifted from Biden's speech on climate change last November, and the voice heard does not sync with what the president was saying at the time.

If you ever hear that the president has signed a bill or made a proposal that intrigues you, check it out on the White House website.

2. Call from the "Federal Trade Commission"

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a government watchdog group that works to protect us from scammers. Unfortunately, scammers have no problem pretending to be the FTC and calling Americans with "good news."

A report out of Tulsa, Oklahoma tells of a woman who received such a call. According to the woman, someone told her they were from the FTC and that their organization has millions of dollars to help families as COVID continues to spread across the U.S. He told her that her family was eligible for $1,500. All she needed to do was supply the caller with her bank account number so the FTC could transfer the money.

In a twist you probably saw coming, the scammer emptied the woman's account.

In response, the FTC shared this advice:

  • Ignore any unexpected emails, calls, or texts.
  • Never return a call if you don't recognize the number.
  • Do not click on any links in emails or texts.
  • Never give your personal or financial information to someone you don't know (no matter who they say they're with).
  • Remember, government agencies will never contact you by email, phone, or text (unless you initiate the contact).

Report scam contacts to the FTC at their website.

Read more: 3 Personal Loan Scams to Avoid

3. Eerily real looking "breaking news"

Not to pick on social media, but this scam is also plastering newsfeeds. You'll see what looks like a legitimate news set. There may be a banner in the background reading "Breaking News." Along the bottom of the screen, under a very serious newscaster's face, may be a news ticker with a message like, "U.S. Homeowners Due Generous Mortgage Stimulus."

The current ads appear to tout a homeowner's stimulus that provides up to $3,800 in mortgage support. They call it a "mortgage relief program," and if you took the ad at face value, you might be tempted to believe that it's real news.

It is not.

Organizations like the Better Business Bureau and AARP have attempted to warn people off these scams, because that's what they are. If you click to learn more, you'll find a whole lot of personal questions. You'll be asked for your address, how much your home is worth, and how much you owe. Then, you may (or may not) be offered a loan. There was never any stimulus money.

Read more: What Happens If You Miss a Mortgage Payment

The nice thing about knowing there are scammers out there is that we can better prepare ourselves to recognize their foolishness and avoid it at all costs.

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