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Money Talks for April 4: Stimulus check scams

Money Talks for April 4: Stimulus Check Scams
Posted at 11:33 AM, Apr 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-05 09:47:31-04

The U.S. government will soon be sending millions of Americans stimulus checks and the Treasury Department is warning consumers to beware of scammers. Financial Professional Brad Zucker from Safe Money Advisors discusses what you need to know and how to protect your money.

Q: FIRST OFF, FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW, WHAT’S IN THE CARES ACT?

  • This new law promises checks to most Americans, expands unemployment benefits and offers loans to small businesses. It also sets aside money for hospitals struggling to keep up with the resources needed to fight the coronavirus.
  • An estimated 93% of taxpayers will get a check. Adults making less than $75,000 per year will receive $1,200 and $500 for each child.
  • The amount you receive will phase out if you make more than $75,000, and those making more than $99,000 a year won’t receive any money.
  • This $2 trillion bill is the largest emergency relief package in American history. The goal is to slow a recession and stimulate a hurting economy.

Q: WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE WHO ARE EXPECTING A CHECK BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR?

  • While officials say we can expect to see checks in mid-April, some say it will likely take longer.
  • No one will call or text you to verify your personal information or bank account details in order to “release” the money.
  • The vast majority of people will not have to take any action in order to receive their check.
  • However, some people who typically do not file tax returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive their check.
  • Those receiving Social Security benefits are eligible for a check, and that money does not need to be claimed as earned income when it comes time to file taxes.

Q: WHAT ARE SOME TIPS TO HELP PROTECT YOURSELF FROM CORONAVIRUS SCAMS?

  • Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown or suspicious numbers.
  • Never share personal or financial information via email, text message or over the phone.
  • Do not click links in any suspicious emails or text messages.
  • If you believe you’ve been a victim of a coronavirus scam, contact law enforcement immediately.

Q: WHAT ARE SOME TAX DAY PREPARATIONS WE CAN MAKE TO AVOID BEING SCAMMED?

  • The deadline to file and pay federal income taxes has been extended to July 15, 2020.
  • On the positive side, filers and companies will have an additional 90 days to file their federal tax returns and make payments without interest or penalties.
  • One thing to keep in mind, this only applies to your federal taxes.

Q: WHY SHOULD WE FILE OUR TAXES SOONER THAN LATER?

Prevent Identity Theft

  • Filing your taxes early is one simple way to protect your identity.
  • Although tax identity theft has decreased in recent years, the IRS still considers it one of the top tax scams everyone should be aware of.
  • All identity thieves need to file a claim electronically is your name and tax ID number. By getting your tax return early, the IRS is more likely to recognize a fake return being filed in your name.
  • If you think you’ve been a victim of tax fraud, I have a few resources on my website askbradzucker.com to report a claim.

Brace for Your Tax Bill

  • The sooner you calculate your tax liability, the more time you have to plan and budget for your tax bill due July 15th.
  • Especially in this uncertain time when people have experienced loss of income and turbulent investments, you’ll want a clear picture of what you owe.
  • Even if you wait until the last minute to run the numbers and file for an extension, you still have to pay what you owe.
  • What we don’t want to see people do is put their tax bill on a high-interest credit card that they aren’t able to pay off right away.

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