Treasury secretary warns of stimulus payment scam

By John McPhaul

Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés Alicea alerted citizens of Puerto Rico on Monday not to make any request for money through a web page with an address very similar to that of the agency, which provides a form to claim the stimulus of $1,400 approved by the federal government.

“We have referred to federal authorities the complaint of a citizen, which informed us about the existence of a link with the address, which looks similar to our official page, where a form is provided to request the stimulus of $1,400, by including confidential information such as Social Security and bank account numbers and driver’s license,” Parés Alicea said.

The Treasury secretary stressed that no form has been created to request the $1,400, because that disbursement will be made using the information from the 2019 and 2020 income tax returns.

“As we have explained since the process began, the department will not create any mechanism to request the stimulus that is pending distribution. Citizens do not have to conduct new procedures and the Treasury never uses intermediaries to request information from taxpayers,” he said. “The fraudulent page, which ends in .com, creates false expectations and can confuse people because it looks very similar to that of the Treasury. The form is entitled Third Round Claim and it opens the doors to malicious people to take the money from your accounts and [use your] identity.”

Parés Alicea further emphasized that the Treasury Department will not communicate by phone with anyone, nor will it send text messages regarding the payment.

“We are not requesting personal or banking information by any other means than our SURI platform and any information that you must submit will also be done by Assistance in SURI or through your personal SURI account,” he said.

The official said the Treasury is still waiting for the approval of its distribution plan by the federal Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). He added that the department is in the process of exchanging information with the IRS and that once the island Treasury plan is approved, the distribution of financial aid can begin.

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