Lakyn Hauptman is one of many Americans waiting for her $600 stimulus check.
The second round of payments are already showing up in bank accounts of Americans, but many are still waiting. During her wait, she has a plan ready as to how she’ll use her funds once received.
“when it gets deposited, honestly, I hope to at least be putting the majority of it if not some of it to rent,” said Hauptman.
Hauptman understands that she needs to manage the money carefully, especially since payments were cut in half from the $1,200 check received in March 2020. Nonetheless, she is thankful for any relief during this time of hardship and uncertainty.
“Less than the previous amount is definitely a shock, but honestly with everything going on; you know the job market isn’t doing as great as we hoped. So, I feel like we can take it or leave it at this point. I mean anything is something,” said Hauptman.
Some people may not need the relief as urgently as others, but there are still smart ways to use the money if you don’t have outstanding debts to pay.
Professor Greg Filbeck, Director of the Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend has recommendations.
“For those who perhaps this is only going to serve to be able to boost them up a little bit above and beyond where they were sustaining themselves, it’s always a good idea to help support the local economy and the local businesses at this particular juncture. For those where this is just extra cushion, certainly looking into opportunities to invest that money would be a wise idea,” said Dr. Filbeck.
Hauptman also has some suggestions just in case hardship does arise unexpectedly.
“If you can, put the money aside just in case. If you have a job and there’s another round of layoffs, I would definitely recommend to save that. Or, if you already do not have a job, I know that unemployment numbers are higher and the funding isn’t doing all that great. So, definitely put that aside for necessities,” suggests Hauptman.
If you’re one of many still waiting for the money, scammers know and are already trying to take the money off your hands.
Lisa Lopez is the senior VP of deposit operations at Marquette Savings Bank. She often sees people fall victim to many types of scams once it’s too late to act, and the scammer has already gotten their money.
This time of hardship is just another opportunity for scammers, which is why Lopez wants to let people know what to look for before and during the money distribution. One of the most common and quickest ways a scammer will try to get their victim is through a phone call. She stresses the importance of not giving personal information to an unknown source.
“People might start getting phone calls from somebody posing to be from the government saying ‘hey, give me these pieces of information and we’ll get your payment faster’. So, on incoming calls we always want to be suspect of people asking us for information they should already have our social security number and account number and know how to get those payments to us,” said Lopez.
Aside from phone calls, scammers are ready to take money from you through other outlets and methods as well.
“Emails with links in them, any time someone is asking you to purchase a gift card when the send you money. Gift cards you go and buy to give to someone as a gift. Not to buy and redeem onto a site for someone you hardly know. Social media sites as well, people reaching out to you that you don’t know well or don’t know at all, gaming sites, those types of things. Anyone asking you to help them receive their money by using your account, that’s another common scam.” said Lopez.
Once you notice you’re a target or a victim of a scam, Lopez strongly encourages you to not only call your bank, but to notify the Federal Trade Commission.
“You can call your bank for resources and help to report these crimes and these suspected crimes. Also, the Federal Trade Commission asks that you report these to their site. It will really make a difference in trying to put all the pieces together and catch the people behind all of these terrible acts,” said Lopez.
People can also go to Marquette’s Fraud Protection Center to get information about current scams, and information on how to protect their identity and their accounts from criminal activity.
Lopez says the best thing to do is to just wait for your money to get directly deposited or mailed to you.