After days of negotiations, on March 27, Congress and the President signed a historic $2 trillion stimulus plan to help mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19. Here’s all you need to know about The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
One of the most crucial elements of the act is the planned to distribution of stimulus checks to middle class and lower-income Americans. Officials hope to deposit the one-time payments over the next three weeks.
Your household income reported on 2018 taxes or 2019 taxes, if already filed, will determine your stimulus check total. Checks will average $1,200 for each adult earning up to $75K a year and married couples earning up to $150K a year. Each household will also receive an additional $500 for every child under the age of 17 who lives at home. You can look up your anticipated check amount on this calculator.
Stimulus check scams
Unfortunately, scammers have already started to take advantage of stimulus checks by creating false advertisements that offer checks greater than $1,200, multiple checks per person, or offer to process checks sooner for a fee.
Remember our top tips to protect yourself against these scams:
- Don’t accept a stimulus check unless it comes from the US Treasury. Stimulus checks will not be issued by a business or individual and most will be directly deposited into the same account as your taxes.
- Don’t give your online or mobile banking username and password to anyone. Scammers often promise to use your account information to deposit a check for you, but instead deposit fraudulent checks and take your money.
- Don’t respond to phone calls, social media messages or emails asking for personal or account information, including your Social Security Number. If you filed taxes, the US Treasury Department will already know this and either make a direct deposit to your account or mail a check to the address you provided on your tax return. If you need to update your account information with the IRS or want to check on the status of your Stimulus Check, complete the “Get My Payment” application on their website.
- Don’t pay a processing fee to anyone. Some scammers advertise that paying a processing fee will make your stimulus check arrive sooner. This is not real.
- Be cautious of checks for odd dollar amounts. Stimulus checks should be even dollar amounts capped at $1,200 per person. Each household will receive an additional $500 for each child under 17 who lives at home.
For more information on CARES Act and COVID-19 scams, visit the FBI’s website.
Increased unemployment benefits
The CARES Act also enhances unemployment benefits to provide four months of fully paid leave for laid-off workers, expands coverage for furloughed employees, includes workers who generally do not qualify for unemployment, and increases unemployment benefits by $600 a week.
Small business bailouts
Please be aware that as of Thursday, April 16, funds for the Paycheck Protection Program have been depleted. At this time, no additional funding has been confirmed. If additional funding becomes available, we will update our business members. The stimulus plan include aid for small businesses, offering $350 billion in funds to help them remain solvent during the pandemic. These funds take the form of loans, some of which may ultimately be forgiven, including a Paycheck Protection Program. For more information about options that might be available to your small business, give us a call at 315.782.0155.
Small business scams
Scammers are also taking advantage of small businesses seeking aid during this time by sending emails impersonating the Small Business Association, requesting additional, personal information to receive funding.
If you’re a business owner, remember these tips to protect your livelihood against these scams:
- The Small Business Association (SBA) will not initiate contact regarding relief options. If you receive a phone call or email from someone claiming to be the SBA, report it to the Office of the Inspector General’s Hotline at 1.800.767.0385 or on their website.
- If you are contacted by someone who promises approval of an SBA loan if you provide upfront payment or accept a high-interest bridge loan while you wait for funding, suspect fraud. The SBA has limited fees a broker can charge a borrower to 3% for loans $50,000 or less and 2% for loans $50,000 – $1,000,000. Attempts to charge more are inappropriate and should be reported to the SBA.
- Email communications that do come from the SBA will come from email accounts that end in @sba.gov. Remember to inspect emails requesting personal information carefully to ensure they are legitimate and not phishing scams. To learn more about email safety and protecting yourself from phishing scams, read our top tips here.
Funding for the health care system
The stimulus plan allocates $150 billion to help our country’s health care system meet the demands of the pandemic. Of this funding, $130 billion goes directly to hospitals dealing with shortages of masks, ventilators, beds and protective gear, and the Indian Health Service will receive $1 billion. The rest of the money will fund research and treatment and help the Strategic National Stockpile raise medical supplies and equipment.
Our country is going through historically challenging times, but with the combined effort of the federal government, the cooperation and compliance of the public and generosity of each individual, we can all get through this together. For individuals financially affected by coronavirus, we have put together a COVID-19 Financial Relief Program to help bridge the gap during this difficult time. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.
We wish all of our members and their families continued health and safety during this difficult time.