- Local Eldercare resources through Lifespan: 585-244-8400
- Federal Government Eldercare Locator Hotline: 800-677-1116
- New York State Consumer Helpline: 800-697-1220
- To submit a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission: FTC.gov
Unfortunately, scammers use times of crisis to take advantage of vulnerable populations who are simply seeking support and assistance. We’re seeing cases of people claiming to be the federal government, the IRS, and public health sources to get access to peoples’ sensitive information. Consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission related to the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) have surged in recent weeks. I’m working to ensure that we as a community have comprehensive access to the resources that will help us keep our families, and our personal information, safe and secure during these uncertain times.
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As part of the CARES Act, the federal government will be sending rebate payments to Americans across the country in an effort to stimulate the economy as we combat the COVID-19 Pandemic. Beware of a growing amount of scams involving people trying to get your information or stimulus check and stay up-to-date with these tips & FAQS.
Q: Will the IRS contact individuals to obtain bank account information, Social Security numbers, or other personally identifiable information in order to distribute stimulus payments?
A: NO. The IRS will determine the amount each person is eligible to receive based on their previously filed taxes, and then automatically distribute the payments. These will be delivered electronically by direct deposit or as a personal check in the mail. Beware of anyone claiming to be calling, texting, or emailing from the IRS seeking your personally identifiable information. If you don’t file tax returns and receive Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration will share your information with the IRS so eligible beneficiaries will receive their stimulus payments. For other eligible individuals who do not file tax returns, the IRS has created a portal for non-filers to receive their stimulus checks. You should only enter your information there.
Q. I’m seeing offers from third-party sellers promising to get my checks faster if I give them sensitive information. Will these work?
A. NO. Beware of any companies or individuals seeking to charge you a fee in exchange for increasing or expediting your stimulus payments. The IRS will determine the amount of your payment based on your family size and income. The bill requires stimulus payments go out “as rapidly as possible,” including through direct deposit based on information the government has on file from previous tax returns. Paying a third party will not increase or speed up delivery of your stimulus payment. More information from the Internal Revenue Service on stimulus payments is available https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
Q. What if a company or individual claims to be affiliated with IRS or other governmental agencies seeking to help individuals receive their stimulus payments?
A. Be aware of scams, including anyone claiming to be affiliated with the IRS or displaying a seal or logo representing the U.S. government in correspondence, emails, or on the internet. Refer to the official government agency website for information. For the latest information on stimulus payments go to the Internal Revenue Service’s webpage on Coronavirus.
If you’re a senior in our community, you may need help picking up groceries or other supplies during this trying time. Unfortunately, some people around the country have been taking advantage of folks in need-offering to buy supplies but never returning. Always find a neighbor or friend you trust if you need to reach out. There’s also resources if you need additional help:
Eldercare Locator - Connecting you with services for older adults & their families
800-677-1116: Eldercare Locator Hotline
Monday - Friday (9am - 8pm ET)
Local Social Security Administration (SSA) offices are closed to the public during this crisis, however, SSA will not be suspending or decreasing Social Security benefit payments or Supplemental Security Income payments. Look out for scams asking you to provide personal information, wire transfers, or cash to maintain your regular benefits over the next few months. Any communication that says SSA will suspend or decrease your benefits due to COVID-19 is a scam. Report Social Security scams to the SSA Inspector General online here.
“Awareness is the first step. Planning ahead for financial wellbeing and the possibility of diminished financial capacity is critical. Reporting and early intervention are vital to preventing loss and recovering loss when possible. Money Smart for Older Adults is designed to provide you with information and tips to help prevent common frauds, scams and other types of elder financial exploitation in your community. Please share this information with others.”
Also remember to always be careful when shopping or interacting with people online. New York has seen a surge of online scammers claiming to sell in-demand cleaning and health supplies. Remember, anyone can set up shop online under almost any name. Confirm the online seller's physical address and phone number in case you have questions or problems. And if you get an email or pop-up message that asks for your financial information while you’re browsing, don't reply or follow the link.While shopping, always make sure you’re on an accredited website or seller, and that you never give sensitive information to a third-party platform you don’t trust.
There has also been multiple reports of scammers using click-bait and phishing scams on the internet (a link that pops up on your computer in order to install malware, steal your password, or gain access to sensitive information).