Just do us a favor and don't fall for these stimulus check scams, OK?

Second stimulus checks are on their way, and criminals are using them as an attempt to steal your bank account information. Here's how to spot, avoid and report stimulus scams.

Shelby Brown Editor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
  • She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Shelby Brown
5 min read

Knowledge is power: The IRS will never call, text or email you to verify information. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

A second stimulus check for up to $600 per eligible American is now on its way to tens of millions of people, and a third stimulus check could soon follow. Once again, scammers are using news of the second stimulus payment as a lure to try to steal your money and personal information. 

The Better Business Bureau has already received reports from people contacted through text message, email and phone calls about the new stimulus checks, and the IRS has issued multiple warnings -- including against Twitter scams (the IRS won't send you a direct message). Urgent emails, text messages or phone calls that instruct you to click a link to confirm your payment or enter more information are fake, and you should never click the link or enter your bank or personal information. 

When in doubt, remember that the IRS doesn't have the capacity to speak with people on the phone about their stimulus checks. They certainly won't take the time to call you or look up your Twitter account. Here are the most common and notorious scams that target your second stimulus check -- and what to do if you think you've been swindled. We've drawn from the IRS website's official guidance on avoiding economic impact payment schemes. By the way, here's how to find out when your check is coming, and calculate how much money you're likely to receive.

The IRS will never text you or send you a direct Twitter message

If "the IRS" or "Internal Revenue Service" unexpectedly sends you an urgent text message -- and any text, for that matter -- do not respond. The same goes for a direct message (DM) in a tweet.

"Remember: #IRS does NOT send unsolicited texts. Watch out for a scam that asks for bank account info in order to send you an Economic Impact Payment," the agency tweeted Jan. 5. On Jan. 8, it warned against responding to any DM purporting to be from the IRS.

Prior to the $600 stimulus check being approved, individuals reported getting text messages encouraging them to click on a link and accept the stimulus check payment. If you've gotten a text message like this, it's a scam. The text messages may say that you've "received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 (Treasury) Fund" and will include a phony link to "accept the payment." The same would apply for a $600 stimulus check, or any amount.

Scammers may promise faster stimulus check delivery

If you're asked to verify or provide financial information by phone, email or text to speed up the delivery of your payment, that's also a scam. The IRS won't call or email you to verify your information, according to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. Only use this IRS web page to submit information to the IRS.

Watch this: Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know

The IRS doesn't call it a 'stimulus check'

If the person you're talking to via text or email uses language other than "economic impact payment," be wary/ The IRS calls the"economic impact payment" by its official name, where scammers are more likely say "stimulus check" or "stimulus payment" instead. 

Even if the term "economic impact payment" comes up in any communication purporting to be from the IRS, don't take your word for it, especially if any of these other tips raise red flags. Always go to the official IRS web page to find out information about your check. Here's how to find out when your stimulus check is coming.

In most cases, you don't need to do anything to get a stimulus payment

If you're a retiree who doesn't normally file a tax return and someone offers to submit information for you or claims you must verify information before getting your check, something is wrong. The IRS says no action is needed on the part of retirees to receive a stimulus check if they don't normally file a tax return. Here's more to know about stimulus checks, retirees and older adults.

What if there's a bogus 'stimulus' check in the mail?

One scam may send an odd amount -- specifically including cents -- and ask you to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it. The IRS says this is a scam. The US Treasury, working with the IRS, will either issue your stimulus check through direct deposit or mail you a check or EIP card if that's not possible. As was the case with the first check, most people won't need to fill out an application or contact the IRS to get your second check. If you do, it will be through the Recovery Rebate Credit as part of your 2020 tax return.


Knowing the common stimulus check scams will help you avoid them.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Nobody can get you your payment faster

Anyone who asks to work on your behalf promising that they can get you money faster -- in person or online -- is a scammer. In addition, the IRS says you also shouldn't be asked to sign your check over to anyone else. Know your stimulus check rights.

The IRS will not email you, so never click an attachment

Email attachments that promise special information about payments or refunds are not legitimate. Again, the IRS will not contact you by email or text message and links within these messages could be dangerous malware or phishing scams. 

You will never have to pay to receive your stimulus check

Some scams try to convince you you must pay to get your check. The IRS won't ask you to deposit your check and then send them money. If paying through direct deposit, the IRS says that economic impact payments will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the most recent tax return that you filed for 2019. If the IRS does not have a taxpayer's direct deposit information, a check will be mailed to the last known address on file.

Think you've been scammed? Here's what you should do

If you think your personal information might've been compromised, the IRS suggests you go to IdentityTheft.gov. The site lets you report identity theft to the IRS and FTC simultaneously and develop a recovery plan. 

To keep track of your second stimulus check, you can check out the IRS' Get My Payment page (we've got instructions on how to use the Get My Payment tool here). You can also track your second check through the mail. Here's everything we know about a third stimulus check.