Beware of Stimulus Check Predators
They Are Out There And They Want Your Money!
May 22, 2008
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By: MyBayCity Staff
STIMULUS: Something external that influences an activity. An agent, action, or condition that elicits or accelerates a physiological or psychological activity or response
Like all good Americans, you should be ready to spend your check as soon as it arrives in order to "stimulate the economy".
Several retailers have already announced programs to lure shoppers through their doors with stimulus incentives.
I have found myself wondering, as I see all of the ad campaigns promoting ways to "save money" while spending your Government issued Stimulus check. Special discounts and added bonuses that you can ONLY get if you are paying with your Stimulus check . . . Hmmm . . . sounds a bit predatory if you ask me . . .
I had overlooked the "Economic" word and jumped to what seemed to be a practical assumption, that the Stimulus checks were to revive the blue collar worker, trying to raise a family and put food on the table during horrendous economic times, not go out and buy that flat panel screen television they could otherwise, not afford. I realize this assumption is wrong in most respects. The government would definitely say it is. Why? Because the purpose was to "stimulate the economy".
Our local families are losing their jobs, falling behind on their mortgages and frightened of the "unknowns" to come in the future. Is a 10% bonus worth spending your government windfall, rather than tackling debt or saving for those "unknowns"?
"Stimulate the economy", "stimulate the pocketbook", "stimulate catching up on bills - pre-pay your mortgage" (many have fallen behind on), "stimulate an off-set of the high prices we are seeing at the gas pump or grocery store", "stimulate a re-born savings account-emergency fund", "stimulate a sense of relief" . . . don't just take it and spend it on furniture, new vehicles, appliances, a new computer and so on and so forth -- as the ad campaigns would have us do!
Heres a novel idea . . . During a recession, your job security is Issue #1. So, think about taking some of your rebate check money to upgrade your skills.
There are other "stimulus scams" out there as well, heck, even Visa has jumped on the stimulus bandwagon, offering "pre-paid" Visa cards and wanting a percentage of your check! Wal-Mart, Kroger and Sears are also offering "deals" if you cash your stimulus checks at their establishments. Home Depot's new "slogan" is "turn your tax rebate into an update - Go Green" enticing you to spend your rebate on environmentally friendly products at their stores for a discount!
My advice is . . . be aware of these scams and educate yourself because everyone is vying for a piece of your stimulus pie!
At least one scheme using the word "rebate" as part of the lure has been identified. In that scam, consumers receive a phone call from someone identifying himself as an IRS employee. The caller tells the targeted victim that he is eligible for a sizable rebate for filing his taxes early. The caller then states that he needs the target's bank account information for the direct deposit of the rebate. If the target refuses, he is told that he cannot receive the rebate.
This phone call is a scam. No legislation has yet been enacted that would allow the IRS to provide advance payments to taxpayers or that determines the details of those payments. Moreover, the IRS does not force taxpayers to use direct deposit. Those who opt for direct deposit do so by completing the appropriate section of their tax return, with bank routing and account information, when they file; the IRS does not gather the information by telephone.
Those who have received a questionable telephone call that claims to come from the IRS may also use the firstname.lastname@example.org mailbox to notify the IRS of the scam.
One-time stimulus payments will be sent to at least 117 million low- and middle-income households, 20 million senior citizens living off of Social Security and 250,000 disabled veterans.
To be eligible for a full rebate, single tax filers must have 2007 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) below $75,000 and joint filers must have AGI below $150,000.
Single filers with AGI below $75,000 will get rebates of as much as $600. Couples with AGI below $150,000 will receive rebates of up to $1,200.
In addition, parents will also receive $300 per child under 17; there is no cap on the number of qualifying children eligible.
Tax filers who do not owe income taxes, but have at least $3,000 in income - which can include Social Security and disability payments - will get $300 rebates per person or $600 per couple.
The stimulus allows for a 5% phaseout rate for households above the income caps of $75,000 for single filers and $150,000 for joint filers. The rebates of those taxpayers will be reduced by the amount of income above the cap multiplied by 5%.
If you do choose one of these "popular" stimulus campaigns and decide to take advantage of a percentage savings (if you spend it "there"), please remember to spend it locally.
I too, could take the "predatory" approach and offer incentives for businesses, enticing them to spend their stimulus check by advertising with MyBayCity.com ... but I won't.
Make smart moves with your stimulus check. Keep the money circulating in our own economic region. Our local businesses will thank you for it!
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