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6 Ways to Know Your COVID-19 Check is Real

6 Ways to Know Your COVID-19 Check is Real

The Internal Revenue Service has been making good progress in getting the economic impact payment to eligible individuals. Most of the money so far has been directly deposited into recipients' bank accounts. Some taxpayers, however, will be getting paper checks through the U.S. Mail.

Paper check problems: This is a bit of a concern for two reasons:

  1. as with tax refunds issued by check and mailed to taxpayers, there is always the possibility that the checks will be stolen from their mail boxes.
  2. some coronavirus crooks have created fake stimulus checks. This is latest variation of the bogus government payment scam that has been around for years.

In these instances, con artists send fake checks to their scam victims, advising them to quickly deposit the checks. Then the second part of the scam kicks in, with the crooks telling the victim that the checks are too large. Since they got more than they were due, according to the crooks perpetrating this type of scam, the recipients of the fake checks need to send back part of the money. Yes, they ask the victim to send the alleged excess back to the crooks who issued the worthless counterfeit checks.

Know your real government check: With so many Americans eagerly awaiting their much-needed money and the COVID-19 paper payments providing a new opportunity for fake checks, the U.S. Secret Service is getting involved.

This federal law enforcement agency, which operates under the direction of the Department of Homeland Security, is best known for its agents who protect U.S. presidents. However, Secret Service agents also investigate counterfeiting law violations, as well as a wide range of financial fraud, including financial document counterfeiting.

Because of its expertise in fighting counterfeiting, the Secret Service has joined the Treasury Department in a new "Know Your U.S. Treasury Check" campaign. This is an effort to make individuals, retailers and financial institutions aware of possibly fake COVID-19 checks and educate them on how they can protect themselves from becoming victims of counterfeit government checks.

The agencies have created a two-page PDF with more on the legitimate coronavirus checks. Here are six security features noted in that document that are found on all real Treasury checks and the COVID-19 economic relief payment (pictured above) in particular:

  1. Treasury Seal — This is a new seal to the right of the Statue of Liberty. It should say "Bureau of the Fiscal Service" and has replaced the old seal that said, "Financial Management Service."
  2. Bleeding Ink — When moisture is applied to the seal to the right of the Statue of Liberty, the black ink will run and turn red.
  3. Watermark — All U.S. Treasury checks are printed on watermark paper. The watermark reads "U.S. TREASURY" and is seen from both front and back when held up to a light source.
  4. Ultraviolet Overprinting — A protective ultraviolet (UV) pattern is invisible to the naked eye, consisting of lines of "FMS" bracketed by the FMS seal on the left and the U.S. Seal (eagle) on the right. As of 2013, a new ultraviolet patter was introduced into the check that says "FISCALSERVICE." Either one of these UV patterns maybe be seen.
  5. Microprinting — This is located on the back of the check, showing the words "USAUSAUSA."
  6. Economic Impact Payment Notation — The COVID-19 payment checks will have a special note at the lower left side of the check, next to the Statue of Liberty image. It says, "Economic Impact Payment President Donald J. Trump."

When you get your check in your curbside mail box, check it out using the Know Your U.S. Treasury Check guidelines. The only thing worse than having to wait for your coronavirus money is falling for a fake stimulus check scam.