Scammers targeting California Middle Class Tax Refund payments: AG

Californians are being warned of scammers targeting Middle Class Tax Refund payments. 

In a statement, Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a consumer alert warning of the "bad actors hoping to take advantage" of those still awaiting the one-time inflation relief payments. 

"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."

RELATED COVERAGE: California inflation relief payments: Timeline for last group of recipients released

Bonta issued the following tips to help Californians avoid being scammed as they await either direct deposits to hit their bank accounts or debit cards to arrive via snail mail:

Tips to Help You and Your Loved Ones Avoid Being Scammed:

  • Check with the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) to see an estimate of how much you should receive. While some people with a high income will not receive any money, many people will receive a payment of $200-$350 per person, with additional funding for those who are married or with children. To see how much you should receive, you can go to the FTB website here.
  • Don’t provide your personal information or pay money to receive your refund. You do not need to take any action or pay any money to receive the refund. 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 will receive a debit card, visit the FTB website here. Do not provide anyone else with your personal information, such as your bank account information, Social Security number, or credit card information. 
  • Don’t be fooled by scammers who say they can speed up your payment. The FTB stated that 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. 
  • Don’t fall for text messages, emails, or calls asking you to "activate" or "reactivate" your prepaid debit card. 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. Scammers may send you phishing texts or emails that are made to look like government emails or websites. Do not click on any suspicious links. Be aware that scammers can replicate or "spoof" the phone number of a government agency. If you get a call, hang up the phone.
  • Know what to look for if you receive a prepaid debit card. You’ll receive your prepaid debit card in an envelope such as the one shown here. 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.