Without even touching the story about how Congress repeatedly dealt or refused to deal with the so-called fiscal cliff as being a scam, a very real scam has emerged from the legislation that prevented the country from going over the fiscal cliff. The real legislation dealt with many different things and the public is not generally informed as to many of the specifics of this voluminous piece of legislation. Scammers, as usual, are taking advantage of this lack of precise awareness by the public of the exact details of the legislation and are contacting people through emails or the phone and informing them that they are eligible for up to $1,000 dollars of federal funds to be applied toward utility bills as part of the fiscal cliff legislation. The email, in particular, looks quite legitimate and appears to come from the Department of the Treasury. The scam comes in when the scammer indicates that he or she merely needs some information in order to process the payment. The information, of course, includes the person’s Social Security number, which is a key to identity theft. If the intended victim indeed falls for the scam and provides his or her Social Security number as well as other information, he or she will not receive any funds from the federal government. Instead, he or she will become a victim of identity theft.
There is no such fiscal cliff program to pay for your utility bills. Any communication to you that claims otherwise is from a scammer. The Treasury Department does not communicate with citizens by email or unsolicited telephone calls so if you receive such a communication, you can be confident that it is a scam. If you have any question about a government program, call your Congressman’s or Senator’s office and you will find that generally, the communications you have received are from a scammer. Never give personal information such as your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you by email or the phone because you cannot be sure that they are legitimate.