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How you can protect yourself from stimulus check scams

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Posted at 7:21 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-11 19:21:14-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The pandemic continues to wreak financial havoc on businesses and families, leaving many of Americans struggling to stay afloat.

While the IRS rushes to fix an error that sent millions of stimulus checks to the wrong bank accounts, families wait anxiously for the much needed payment.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says there's no doubt scammers are working just as hard, trying to get their hands on relief payments.

It's something he says his office saw with the last round of stimulus checks.

"We did see examples, mostly by emails or robocalls, of people trying to get personal information or trying to get people to send money in, in order to get the relief payments," said Herring. "That's why we want to get the word out early, so Virginians will be on the lookout for this and not fall victim to one of these scams."

Herring is urging Virginians not to respond to solicitations by text, email, or phone call.

"If anyone gets a solicitation by text, email, call saying, 'hey the relief payments are coming.' All you have to do is provide us with your bank info or worse, to send money... it's a scam. Hang up. Delete it. Don't respond to it."

Herring says eligible Virginians don't have to do anything to get the relief money. They should also know that the stimulus payments are exempt from garnishment or seizure by creditors or debt collectors, thanks to a recently passed law.

"These payments are supposed to help them get through; Pay for rent, put food on the table, to pay for needed medication and really to help their family get by in times like this. It shouldn't be scooped up by a debt collector," said Herring.

Herring says if anyone sees that a creditor is trying to garnish that money or take it, they should let the bank or that creditor know that money is exempt from being seized for debts.

Anyone having difficulty getting their stimulus money, or if it's wrongfully taken, is urged to contact the AG's Consumer Protection section at 804-786-2071.

Virginia Together: The Rebound Richmond campaign is here to help. Find information on who is hiring, investigations into unemployment payment issues, financial advice on making ends meet, and mental health advice on managing the pressures. These stories will be featured often on CBS 6 News and can be found by clicking this link.