State attorney gives warnings, tips to protect your stimulus check

White House commits to sending stimulus checks within 2 weeks
Posted at 4:42 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 11:00:21-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- People across the country and in the Tampa Bay area have already started to receive their stimulus payments amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Bloomingdale's Jordan Diaz woke up Monday morning, checked his notifications, and saw his stimulus payment was deposited into his account.

“I have to wait until Wednesday, just like the majority of people who received it today," said Diaz. "It’s a substantial amount, so it takes a few days to clear, but it said it would be deposited Wednesday.”

If you haven't received your payment, the IRS says it's going to keep issuing payments to Americans as fast as it can.

Taxpayers who filed returns in 2019 or 2018 will get their payments automatically. An individual will qualify for $1,200 if you earned up to $75,000. Couples filing jointly who make up to $150,000 will get $2,400. Payments start to decrease after that depending on how much you make. The IRS has more details on specific qualifications here.

The Treasury Department and IRS rolled out a new online tool for people who don't normally file a tax return. The tool is free and will help those people get their payments faster. The IRS noted it already has information for people who receive social security or disability, so those individuals do not need to do anything else.

“We just want to make sure that people aren’t worried about being scammed, about being defrauded, and that they have the tools in their arsenal to protect themselves against these fraudsters," said 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Andrew Warren.

Warren wants people to know scammers are already out there working to get their hands on your stimulus check. He says people to remember three points to protect their money.

First, don't give out any sensitive information. The IRS won't ask you to pay a fee or reach out to confirm personal information before sending out your payment.

Second, Warren says be wary of people offering to "help" get you your money. You should only work directly with the IRS or your bank.

Finally, if you get a message or call from someone you don't know, hang up or don't respond, and contact the agency you need directly.

"If you feel like you’ve been defrauded, you should immediately contact local law enforcement about it," said Warren. "You should also contact the IRS and your banks so you can tell them not to send any checks if you think your identity has been compromised and talk to your bank as well so money shouldn’t be going where it shouldn’t either.”

The IRS plans to launch another new tool where people can check the status of their payment and when it should be deposited or mailed out. That tool should be ready for use by Friday, April 17.

For people like Diaz who've received their checks, he says it's a blessing, especially for those who need it most.

“I just plan on saving some money, putting some money away, that way if anything like this ever happens again, who knows if there will be another stimulus package or if my car breaks down down the line," said Diaz. "I’d like to save, pay off a little bit, and splurge.”