By: Suzanne Potter, Public News Service – CT

HARTFORD, Conn. — The Better Business Bureau warns that scammers are already trying to take advantage of out-of-work Americans, desperate for the federal stimulus checks that are reportedly coming in the next few weeks as part of COVID-19 relief.

Authorities are seeing an uptick in reports of fraudsters calling, sending emails or texts, and even putting up fake Facebook ads — all offering to get people’s money faster if they verify personal information, give out banking information or pay a processing fee.

Luke Frey, associate director of communications for the Better Business Bureau serving Connecticut, says no one should fall for the lies.

“So right now, we don’t know of any reason why any consumers would have to either verify their eligibility or even apply to get these funds,” he stresses.

Frey says sometimes, the scammer will ask people to pay taxes in advance on the amount of the check, or ask for a fee to set up direct deposit.

Find out about scams in your area or make a report about your experience on the Better Business Bureau’s website,

Frey says the checks from the federal government will automatically start arriving in early to mid-April, and the method of delivery depends on how you elected to receive your income-tax refund last year — either by mail or direct deposit.

“So, any person who’s telling you that they can help you get this money quicker is most likely a scam,” he states.

Another variation of the scam is a Facebook post telling seniors about a special grant to help pay medical bills. The link leads to a website claiming to be a phony government agency called the U.S. Emergency Grants Federation.