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Scammers are targeting California inflation relief payments, attorney general warns

California’s attorney general issued a warning Monday about scammers who are targeting those still awaiting their Middle-Class Tax Refund payments.

The one-time payments, also billed as inflation relief, range from $200 to $1,050 depending on your income, filing status, and number of dependents. They are being distributed via direct deposit or debit card.

“Unfortunately, there are some bad actors hoping to take advantage as Californians patiently wait for their direct deposit or prepaid debit card to arrive,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. “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.”

Bonta’s office says scammers are using a variety of tactics to steal your personal information and, ultimately, your money. Among them, promising to speed up delivery of the payment.

“The first middle-class refunds were made by direct deposit on October 7, 2022; payments by debit card began on October 24, 2022. Payments are expected to continue through January 14, 2023. Anyone who claims they can get you your money quicker is a scammer,” the Attorney General’s office said.

The relief payments are being distributed by the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB). Roughly half had been issued as of Monday.

“You do not need to take any action or pay any money to receive the refund,” the AG’s office said. “The FTB already has the information needed to make a direct deposit into your checking account or to send you a prepaid debit card.”

To see if you are eligible to receive an inflation relief payment, tap here.

“The FTB will not contact you by text, email, or phone. Do not share personal information with anyone who is contacting you this way, even if they claim to be with the government.”

Californians who are receiving the payment via debit card should know what the envelopes look like:

An envelope containing a California inflation relief debit card. (FTB)

The envelope states, “Not a bill or an advertisement. Important information about your Middle Class Tax Refund.” 

Envelopes that do not include this information are likely a scam, the AG’s office said.

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