Houston Federal Credit Union is serious in our commitment to protect our members’ safety. Scammers may attempt to target individuals in a time of need to access your personal information. When HFCU contacts you, we will never ask for confidential information such as your password, personal identification number (PIN), or social security number. As part of the Coronavirus Aid Relief, the U.S. Federal Government began delivering economic impact payments to eligible Americans to assist with financial needs concerning the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We believe it’s important to always keep our members safe and informed. We know a crisis can bring out the best in people helping family, friends, and neighbors but unfortunately trying times can also bring out the worst in individuals seeking to take advantage of a rough situation. It is our top priority to keep our members educated on staying alert on ways to identify suspicious activity.
Here are a few quick tips to help you avoid stimulus check scams.
- Only use the irs.gov/coronavirus to submit information to the IRS.
- Never provide information by phone call, text, or email to submit information. The Internal Revenue Service, will never contact you by phone, email, text message, or social media with information regarding stimulus payments, or ask for your social security number, account information, or government benefits account number. If scammers are able to obtain your personal information, they could access more than your stimulus payment.
- Avoid payment scams. You are not required to pay any type of fee or payment to receive your stimulus check. In addition, avoid any message that claims you may receive your money faster by entering personal information for a small processing fee.
- Avoid fake check scams. The IRS won’t ever ask you to deposit your stimulus check then send them money back because they paid you more than they owed you. You may visit the IRS website for additional information of how the IRS warns individuals on Stimulus Check Scams.
- Beware of counterfeit checks. If you are still waiting to receive your stimulus payment it’s important to remain cautious during the process. While relief payments are continuously being sent, be on the lookout for counterfeits. If your check comes in the mail with an odd amount it could potentially be counterfeit. Stay alert, if your check requires you to call a number, or verify information over the phone in order to cash the payment, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), assures it’s a key sign of a scam. If this happens to you be sure to notify the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may visit the CFPB site to stay aware of common financial Fraud and Scams.
- Check the language the Stimulus payments are not actually called “Stimulus Checks” despite the popular term. According to the IRS, its official term is “Economic Impact Payment”. If you receive an email, call or text using the unofficial terms, it’s a key sign that the message isn’t legitimate.
- Watch for your receipt. Whether you receive your payment via direct deposit or as a paper check through the mail, the IRS will also send you a letter in the mails 15 days later advising that your payment was sent. The letter is useful because it serves as official verification that your stimulus payment was sent out.
These criminals want you to disclose information, such as personal identification and account information. If you are unsure about a phone call, letter or e-mail you have received, the FTC offers information for all types of scams and can be accessed by clicking here.
If you receive a suspicious email or text message, do not respond to the message, do not click on any links, and do not open any attachments—just delete the message. If you feel your HFCU account, username or password has been compromised, please contact HFCU toll-free at 1-866-OUR-HFCU or at 281-243-0500. You can also report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP, 1-877-ID-THEFT, or online at www.ftc.gov.