In the spring of 2020, many Americans received a stimulus check -- or economic impact payment -- from the government in response to the international coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The amount paid out, which was capped at $1,200, varied for individuals based on their 2018 annual taxes. As we begin 2021, Congress has passed a second stimulus bill that translates into direct payments for Americans.
The stimulus package, which is now capped at $600 for individuals, includes the following:
- Checks for individuals and families
- Expansion of unemployment benefits
- Small business loans
- Grants for live venues
- Funding for schools and childcare
- Rental assistance
- Nutrition assistance
- Vaccine and hospital funding
Learn more about the stimulus check payment and when you can expect it.
Second Stimulus Basic Information
Under the new stimulus bill, up to $600 should be arriving in your bank account if you’re eligible to receive it. Who is eligible? Essentially, if you received the first stimulus check, you’re likely to receive the second one. Keep reading for more details.
An individual who earned $75,000 or less in adjusted gross income will receive the full amount of $600. Married couples earning $150,000 or less jointly will receive a check for $1,200. For each child under 18, you’ll receive an additional $600.
As income increases from there, the payment amount decreases. Individuals earning more than $87,000 or couples earning more than $174,000 would not be eligible to receive a payment under this stimulus package.
Remember: if you’re eligible for a stimulus payment, you don’t need to “sign up” to receive your check. The payments will be automatic for people who have filed a tax return for 2019, as the IRS will use your adjusted gross income information to determine who is eligible.
Those on social security will also be eligible for the government relief check, as long as they’ve filed a Form SSA-1099. Disabled veterans will be eligible as well, even those who don’t pay taxes.
How to Check Your Payment Status
Though some people have already received their stimulus money, don’t be alarmed if you haven’t yet received yours. Under the stimulus bill, the IRS has until January 15 to finish distributing the checks.
If you’ve provided your direct deposit information to the IRS in the past when applying for a tax refund, you’re all set. Your federal assistance check will be deposited directly into your bank account with no additional work on your part.
Americans will receive a paper notice in the mail outlining information about the amount distributed and the bank account to which it was directed. If you don’t see the money reflected in your account or you have an issue with the payment after January 15, you can check your payment status online.
Here’s what to do if you haven’t received your check or you believe it’s for the wrong amount.
The IRS released a tool on their website called “Get My Payment.” According to the IRS, Get My Payment helps users confirm:
- That the IRS sent your second Economic Impact payment, also known as a stimulus payment.
- That the IRS sent your first payment. Some people received their first Economic Impact Payment in partial payments. If you received partial payments, the application will show only the most recent.
- Your payment type: direct deposit or mail.
By entering your Social Security or Individual Tax ID Number along with your birthday, address, and zip code, the Get My Payment tool provides an update on your check mail/deposit status.
If you get a “Payment Status Not Available” message, it means that you won’t receive your stimulus payment via mail or direct deposit. In this case, you can claim it as a “Recovery Rebate Credit” on your 2020 federal taxes, which are due on April 15, 2021.
Learn more about deposit options for your stimulus check.
Avoiding Fraud and Online Scams
In uncertain times like these, it’s important to keep your financial security in the front of your mind. With more and more online and mobile transactions throughout the duration of the pandemic, it’s imperative to protect ourselves from fraud and online scams. And scammers and cyber criminals often prey on confusion and misinformation, making us easier targets.
In the first quarter of 2020, the Federal Trade Commission reported more than 18,000 complaints of fraudulent activity related to the first round of stimulus checks, which was before they were fully distributed. People reported losing $13.44 million to fraud.
Scammers may try to steal your information and claim your stimulus check for themselves, send emails with malicious attachments, and trick you into revealing personal information.
Here are a few ways to keep yourself safe when it comes to your money, the stimulus checks, and your personal information:
- Avoid unsolicited emails and links. If you receive email, texts, or phone calls from an outside address related to your stimulus payment, be sure to verify that the send address is a real one.
- Keep personal and financial information close. In general, it’s good to be wary about who you give your personal and financial information to. It’s also a safe rule-of-thumb to say that you should never provide this information when responding to an email.
- Only use trusted website sources. Be sure that you’re only using official links when receiving and providing information – such as the CDC, IRS, and World Health Organization (WHO) official websites.
- Contact the FTC if you believe you’ve been scammed. If you receive a suspicious call, email, or text about your stimulus payment, don’t open it. Instead, report the incident to the FTC so that the agency can track the scam and warn others.
Academy Bank is By Your Side
No matter what 2021 throws at us, you can trust Academy Bank to be by your side through it all. Whether you want information about stimulus checks or you’re ready to open an account, we’re here for you.