Watch out for these stimulus check scams and payment fraud

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The latest round of $600 stimulus payments has begun to arrive either in your bank account or by mail.

That will continue until the middle of the month. But with precious funds at stake, fraud isn't far behind.

The Federal Trade Commission reported a whopping $211 million has been lost to COVID-19 scams and stimulus payment fraud.

RELATED: 7 On Your Side warns of COVID-19 vaccine scams

As the second payments are rolling out, it's time to protect your funds from a second round of fraud.

Beware of unsolicited emails. The subject is "IRS relief funds claim." That's a red flag since the IRS will not email you.

Next, watch out for emails asking you to verify or give personal information. This form asks for your social security number, date of birth, and even your driver's license number. That's more than enough for a thief to steal your identity. Watch for grammatical or misspelled words.

Avoid fake lookalike checks for amounts greater than $600. After you cash it, the scammer asks for a portion of it back and eventually, the check will bounce.

The big takeaway, if you get a call, text or email from the IRS or the government, don't reply directly.

Be wary of look-alikes organizations. Before responding, research to see if the agency even exists.

Never pay any money for a free government grant or program. If you must pay for a free government program it's a scam.

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