Littleton police warn of scams related to stimulus payments

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LITTLETON — In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the Police Department is warning local residents to be wary of potential scams related to COVID-19.

The Internal Revenue Service is urging people to be on the lookout for scams related to economic impact payments provided by the coronavirus relief bill, according to a news release from Littleton police. These payments are distributed automatically and require no action for most people to receive their payment.

“During uncertain times, scammers tend to take advantage of vulnerable populations,” Chief Matthew J Pinard said in a news release. “In the past weeks, we’ve seen an increase in people reporting credit card, identity and COVID-19 scams. We would like to reiterate that anytime you receive a call and you are concerned or in doubt about the truthfulness of the call, you should immediately contact the Littleton Police Department.”

Potential scams to keep an eye out for:

  • Scams may use phrases such as “stimulus check” or “stimulus payment.” The official term is economic impact payment.
  • Scammers may ask you to sign over your payment in exchange for additional funds.
  • Scammers may contact you by phone, email or text message asking to verify personal or banking information to speed up your economic impact payment. The IRS will not call you asking you to verify financial information to expedite a payment.
  • Scammers may mail you a fraudulent check and ask you to call or verify information online in order to cash it.

Other common tactics scammers use to steal information or funds include impersonating the IRS; impersonating a relative and claiming to have been arrested; reporting that a friend or relative has been kidnapped; posing as a bill collector from a utility company; claiming you have won a sweepstakes or other contest; or claiming your computer needs repairs.

The Federal Trade Commission advises against taking calls from unknown numbers or sharing personal information such as Social Security numbers or account numbers. Residents should never pay a caller using a gift card or prepaid credit card and should not send cash by messenger, overnight mail, or money transfer, according to the commission. If a caller claims to be affiliated with an organization, the agency recommends hanging up and contacting that organization to verify whether the call was legitimate.

Any Littleton resident who believes they have been contacted by a potential scammer, or who believes they may have been a victim of a scam, should contact the Police Department at 978-540-2300. Scams can also be reported to the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint.

Additional information about the IRS’s economic impact payments is available at www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know.