California Inflation Relief Checks: Avoid Scammers While Waiting for Money

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California residents beware: scammers are on the prowl, targeting state taxpayers’ one-time inflation stimulus payments, state Attorney General Rob Bonta said on Monday.

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“Unfortunately, there are some bad actors hoping to take advantage as Californians patiently wait for their direct deposit or prepaid debit card to arrive,” Bonta said. “Do not be fooled. Know what to expect and when, and take precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to a scam.”

To prevent getting bamboozled by a scammer, resist giving out personal information to anyone who you aren’t sure can be trusted. Also, don’t pay money to get your one-time relief payment. 

Payments will be sent through Jan. 14, 2023, via direct deposit or debit card, and there’s no way to speed up the process — anyone who tells you otherwise is a scammer. If you receive your payment on a debit card, you don’t need to activate or reactivate the card, so ignore emails and texts asking you to click a link to activate yours.

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The California Franchise Tax Board began distributing the payments, called Middle Class Tax Refunds, of up to $1,050 to approximately 23 million eligible residents on Oct. 7. The 18 million total payments, which amount to $9.5 billion, represent the largest relief program of its kind in California’s history.

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“We know it’s expensive right now, and California is putting money back into your pockets to help. We’re sending out refunds worth over a thousand dollars to help families pay for everything from groceries to gas,” Newsom said in a statement issued the day before the first payments went out, as previously reported by GOBankingRates.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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