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Sean D. Reyes
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Utah Fraud Squad: Watch Out for Stimulus Package Scams

April 15, 2020

Today, the Utah Department of Commerce launched a new website aimed at informing Utahns of the latest COVID-19 scams, such as scams involving the federal stimulus package. View the Utah Fraud Squad website here.

Starting this week, most Utahns will receive money as the result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion stimulus package providing emergency assistance to the American people, businesses and health care providers amid the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The package includes a one-time direct cash payment to individuals and families across the country to help them financially weather this crisis.

Unfortunately, the bill’s passage has opened up a brand-new opportunity for scammers to take advantage of vulnerable people during an emergency situation.

Taxpayers should be advised that the Internal Revenue Service will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. There are no fees or charges associated with receiving the payment. No one from the federal government will call, email or text message you and ask for your Social Security number, bank account information or credit card number. Anyone who does this is a scammer.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the checks will be sent out for people who have been working and paying taxes since 2018.  Anyone calling and telling you they can get the check to you sooner is a scammer. We advise you to not answer calls, emails or text messages from phone numbers or email addresses you do not know. Do not click on links from unsolicited emails or text messages. If you do answer a phone call and realize it is not someone you know, just hang up.

The Treasury Department plans to run a public awareness campaign for those who have not filed a tax return for either 2018 or 2019. Information will be posted as it becomes available online on www.irs.gov/coronavirus.

Stay aware of the latest scams by visiting the Utah Department of Commerce Utah Fraud Squad website.

To report scams, call the Utah Division of Consumer protection at 801-530-6601 or 1-800-721-7233, or visit them online at: consumerprotection.utah.gov.

Read the Department of Commerce press release regarding the Utah Fraud Squad website here.

Utah AG Offers 5 Tips to Protect Yourself from Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2019

 

DURING NATIONAL AWARENESS WEEK UTAH AG SHARES FIVE TIPS TO FIGHT FRAUD

SALT LAKE CITY – In observance of National Consumer Protection Week, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes reminded Utah citizens to defend themselves from fraud by observing the following five tips:

     1. Guard Your Personal Information
Scammers often pretend to be someone reputable such as a business, government entity, or a charity. They may claim they need to verify your personal information, or you owe them money. Whether it’s over the phone, email, social media, or in person, don’t give out your personal information. This includes banking and financial information, your birthdate, and social security number.
     2. Don’t Believe Everything You See
Technology makes it easy for scammers to alter what is displayed on your caller ID, so the information isn’t always correct. If someone contacts you asking for money or your personal information, you can always hang up and call the business or entity back at a number that you can confirm.
     3. Consider Payment Methods
Credit cards are the safest way to pay online because you can dispute the charges and they often have built-in fraud protection. However, not all money transfers have the same protections. Wiring money, for instance, is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. This is also true for gift cards. Most government offices and honest companies won’t ask you to use these payment methods. Should you be asked to provide financial or other sensitive information online, make sure that the address in the URL changes to “https” or “shttp” instead of just “http”.
     4. Do Your Homework
With any online or phone transaction that you conduct, always look up the business or entity online to make sure they are reputable. This goes for anyone asking for money or personal information. You can also check with the Utah Consumer Protection Division and the Utah Better Business Bureau to see if the person/organization is credible.
     5. Be Careful Where You Click
Never click on any links from unsolicited emails or text messages. These links can download malware onto your computer and potentially steal your identity. Even if it looks familiar, it can be fake. The best approach to receiving these emails or text messages is to simply delete them.

“Utah is a very trusting state which is good in many ways unless you trust the wrong person,” said Attorney General Reyes. “President Ronald Reagan often said, “Trust but verify.” One of the most effective ways to immunize yourself from fraud is to verify information before doing business with anyone, even those you know well.”
 
“The bad news is these cases are so prevalent. The good news is we are perhaps more effective today than ever at fighting scams in Utah. The famous fraudster turned federal agent, Frank Abagnale, has said publicly he has never worked with a better team than the Utah AG Office at fighting fraud, cyber-crimes and identify theft.”

How the Utah Attorney General’s Office Combats Fraud

The Utah Attorney General’s Office and partner agencies are committed to combating fraud and protecting citizens’ rights.

In an age where technology is abundant and quickly evolving, scammers and hackers prey upon unsuspecting people – this costs them time, money, and stress. The Utah Attorney General’s Office is devoted to educating people on how they can protect themselves in an effort to prevent anyone from falling victim to fraudulent situations, and to providing resources and time to directly battling the growing threat of fraud.

In 2016, the Utah Attorney General’s Office launched the White Collar Crime Offender Registry (WCCOR), the nation’s first website that provides consumers with a central database of white-collar offenders. It allows investors to look up white-collar offenders and protect themselves from financial fraud. S