During these difficult economic times, scammers will do almost anything to try to get your money. Including, it turns out, making bogus claims about economic stimulus checks to lure customers to auto sales events.
In a complaint, the Federal Trade Commission says Traffic Jam Events, a direct mail marketing firm for car dealers, is falsely claiming in mailers that their “Economic Automotive Stimulus Relief Program” is affiliated with and approved by the government. It’s not.
They’re also claiming that people who come to designated sites will get stimulus relief checks. They won’t.
They’re even sending out checks that say “COVID-19 Auto Stimulus” with space to endorse the check on the back. But the checks are fake, there’s no car-related relief in the CARES Act, and the government isn’t using car dealerships to give out economic impact payments.
Here are three ways you can help protect yourself and others from these types of scams:
- When you get promotional mailers, check out the company before you act. Search online for the company name plus the words “scam,” “complaint,” or “review.”
- Don’t click on links in emails or text messages. If you click, you could download malware onto your device and wind up on a site that’s after your personal information. Instead, if you’re worried about the message, look up whoever sent it. Then call or email using a number your research gave you — not one from the message.
- Say NO to anyone who insists that you pay by gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency. That’s how scammers tell you to pay, and no legitimate business will tell you to pay that way.
For the most up-to-date information on avoiding COVID-19-related scams, visit ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams. For help protecting yourself financially during this pandemic, visit consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus. And, if you spot a scam, tell the FTC: ftc.gov/complaint.