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As hope fades for a second stimulus payment this year, scammers target people still waiting for financial relief

Anyone who didn’t file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 and has not yet received pandemic relief funds has until Nov. 21 to claim the payment


Yes, the IRS is still trying to distribute pandemic relief money to millions of Americans. But, no, that text about a second stimulus payment is not real.

As if the federal stimulus effort in response to the covid-19 pandemic weren’t tumultuous enough, scammers are trying to steal people’s money or financial information by sending fraudulent text messages.

The IRS is warning people about a text-message scam piggybacking on the economic impact payments authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (Cares) Act.

The text reads, “You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from covid-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment into your account. Continue here to accept this payment,” according to the IRS. If you get this text, take a screenshot and email it to phishing@irs.gov.

Still haven’t gotten your stimulus payment? Here’s why you may not get it until 2021 — or at all.

Be sure you don’t click the link, which will take you to a fake phishing Web address that mimics the agency’s “Get My Payment” tool at irs.gov.

Ignore any text or email about a stimulus payment. Stimulus payments were automatically sent by the IRS, or people had to use the agency’s non-filers tool to claim the money.

But don’t ignore the stimulus effort altogether. Unless you received certain federal benefits or have a federal return on file for 2018 or 2019, you face a deadline of 3 p.m. Eastern time on Nov. 21 to claim an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples. The IRS mailed nearly 9 million letters to people who appear to qualify for a stimulus payment but who don’t normally file a tax return.

The November deadline also now applies to parents who receive Social Security, survivor or disability benefits, SSI, Veterans Affairs or Railroad Retirement benefits and who did not get the extra $500 payments earmarked for dependent children. The IRS initially told parents via its website that they had only until Sept. 30 to use the non-filers portal.

The IRS set the Nov. 21 deadline to allow sufficient time to issue stimulus payments before the end of the year to people who use its non-filers tool at irs.gov to request the funds. The Cares Act requires stimulus payments to be made by Dec. 31. If a payment isn’t made by then, eligible recipients have to wait until filing a 2020 return next year.

With a month and a half left before the end of the year, the IRS is racing to get checks out or make direct deposits to millions of Americans.

And there’s a chance — albeit slim — that Congress may pass another economic relief bill this year with a second round of stimulus payments.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has indicated that he’s open to resuming pandemic relief talks, but only for a slimmed-down stimulus package.

“Our economy is really moving to get back on its feet,” McConnell said during a news conference in Kentucky last week. “That I think clearly ought to affect what size of any rescue package we additionally do. I do think we need another one, but I think it reinforces the argument that I’ve been making the last few months, that something smaller rather than throwing another $3 trillion at this issue is more appropriate.”

McConnell was referring to a one percentage point drop in the unemployment rate to 6.9 percent in October. But 11.1 million people are still out of work, according to the latest jobless figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of long-term unemployed — people who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more — increased by 1.2 million to 3.6 million, accounting for 32.5 percent of the total unemployed, the bureau reported. The number of people employed part-time for economic reasons increased by 383,000 to 6.7 million.

It will take until February 2022 to regain the jobs lost to the pandemic, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“We have not yet beaten the coronavirus or achieved the economic recovery we all desire,” said the Chamber’s executive vice president, Neil Bradley. “Our leaders have wasted five months already. We urge our leaders on both sides of the aisle to find common ground, finish the work they started, and pass additional relief measures during the lame-duck session to help the businesses, industries, and workers who continue to suffer.”

With no new funding, many unemployed people can’t pay their rent and are facing eviction.

Debt, eviction and hunger: Millions fall back into crisis as stimulus and safety nets vanish

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a news conference last week that a smaller stimulus package does not appeal to her. President-elect Joe Biden has said an additional round of stimulus payments would be a top priority for his administration.

On Monday, the U.S. topped 10 million coronavirus cases.

“If you don’t crush the virus, we’re still going to have to be dealing with the consequences of the virus,” Pelosi said.

The window to get additional relief funds to people this year is closing fast. Even if Congress passed economic relief legislation in January, the distribution would collide with the start of what will surely be a confusing 2021 tax season for the IRS. It would be an enormous burden on an already beleaguered agency.