Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., were still working Tuesday on a stimulus bill that likely will include direct payments to Americans.
And news of these direct payments could lead to some scams, Leavenworth County Undersheriff Jim Sherley is warning.
Sherley noted that most people probably have heard the federal government likely will be "sending out checks to combat the economic issues tied to the current COVID-19 threat."
"In short, as with all potential scams, we ask that citizens exercise caution and protect their personal information to safeguard from scammers," Sherley said in a statement. "If they have questions they can call law enforcement."
Jennifer Leach, associate director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Consumer and Business Education, offers tips to help people from being the victims of scams.
She states that government officials will not ask people to pay anything upfront in order to obtain their direct payments as part of the stimulus package. Government officials also will not ask people for their Social Security numbers, bank account information or credit card numbers.
And because the stimulus bill has not yet been signed into law, anyone who claims he can get citizens the money now is a scammer, according to Leach.
People can report scams related to the coronavirus to the FTC by visiting the website www.ftc.gov/complaint
And people can stay up-to-date about coronavirus-related scams by visiting www.ftc.gov/coronavirus
According to Stephen McAllister, U.S. attorney for Kansas, people also can report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or to the NCDF email address of firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Attorney General William Barr has directed U.S. attorneys to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of coronavirus fraud schemes, according to a news release from McAllister’s office.
"We’re open for business and our mission is to protect the public," McAllister said in the news release. "We will prosecute anyone seeking to profit unlawfully from the public’s fear of COVID-19."
Some examples of possible schemes include people selling fake cures for COVID-19 online, phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, malicious websites and apps that appear to share coronavirus-related information to gain and lock access to people’s devices until payment is received, groups seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations and medical providers obtaining patient information for COVID-19 testing and then using that information to fraudulently bill for other tests and procedures.