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VA Scammers Target "Economic Stimulus" Checks

March 26, 2008

Richmond, VA - Predators want to cheat you out of your "economic stimulus" check. Phones across Virginia already are ringing with offers to speed up your pay-out if you just give the caller your personal information.

If you do that, says Carolyn Spohrer of the Virginia Community Action Partnership, you may get your check, but you'll also probably get your bank account cleaned out.

"With this stimulus payment have come lots of people fleecing folks by making phone calls and saying, 'Oh, we can get you the stimulus faster if you give us your social security number and your bank account information.' Don't fall for it, don't believe it. It will not happen."

Anyone with an annual income of at least $3,000 should be receiving a check, but you do need to file a tax return. Spohrer says you don't have to pay to get that done.

"Your best bet is to file a 1040A, very simple, front and back of one page. VITA sites can help you for free, and AARP can help you for free. There are professional tax preparers out there who are charging for these services, but you don't need to pay to have this done."

Spohrer says another threat comes from paying too much to cash your check. She points out it's a federal government check that any bank or credit union should be able to cash. She adds that a bank may charge a small fee if you're not a regular customer, but it will be far less than a check-cashing store would charge.

John Robinson/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - VA