DIFS Encourages State Financial Institutions to Protect Direct Payments from Overdrafts and Fees
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 15, 2021
(LANSING, MICH) The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) issued a bulletin March 15 reminding financial institutions to protect customers’ direct payments under the American Rescue Plan from overdrafts and fees.
“As the pandemic continues, we are urging our state’s financial institutions to keep assisting their customers with the financial challenges they are facing by ensuring that much-needed relief funds are available to be used for basic living needs and emergencies, instead of being diverted to pay fees and charges,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “Many Michigan families have faced financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, and we want to make sure that these payments are protected to help those who have been impacted.”
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. In addition to providing funding to safely reopen schools, to mount a national vaccination program, and to contain COVID-19, The American Rescue Plan provides $1,400 per-person checks to households across the country. The U.S. Department of Treasury and the IRS are working to ensure that payments will start to be distributed this month.
As with the first two direct payments to individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic, DIFS also wants to warn Michiganders that scammers may use this as an opportunity to steal personal information and swindle consumers out of money.
Consumers are urged to watch out for emails designed to look like they are coming from an official government agency, as well as text messages or phone calls where the scammer has rigged the caller ID to look like it is from the IRS or another government agency. Some of these scams demand that the consumer pay a fee or taxes upfront to receive the direct payment. Others prompt the victim to click an online link to track their direct payment, or request bank account information falsely claiming the information is needed so the payment can be directly deposited.
The most important information to know to avoid direct payment scams:
- The Treasury and IRS are the federal agencies in charge of delivering payments.
- Economic impact payments are not taxable, and do not require payment to receive.
- The IRS will NOT call, text you, email you, or contact you on social media asking for personal or account information.
- If you are unsure if you are receiving legitimate correspondence, the IRS urges taxpayers to visit IRS.gov to verify legitimacy.
- Suspected fraud can be reported to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Individuals can get ongoing updates at IRS.gov/Coronavirus/Economic-Impact-Payments, and can report suspected fraud to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
DIFS can assist consumers and businesses with questions or disputes that cannot be directly resolved with their financial institutions. Contact DIFS Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 877-999-6442, or file a complaint at Michigan.gov/DIFScomplaints.