California’s Inflation Check: How to Avoid Scams

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Here’s what to expect and when, as well as precautions to protect yourself from scammers.

Eligible California taxpayers expecting one-time payments of up to $1,050 should be on the lookout for scammers.

California Attorney General Rob Bonto on Monday issued a warning to direct deposit and debit card recipients still waiting to receive their inflation relief dollars: “Don’t be fooled.”

“Unfortunately,” Bonto said in a news release from the Attorney General’s Office, “there are some bad actors hoping to take advantage while Californians patiently wait for their direct deposit or prepaid debit card to arrive.”

The last few eligible direct deposit recipients should have received their check around November 22nd. This means that fraud alerts are especially important for debit card recipients who are still waiting for their prepaid Visa cards in the mail.

Here’s what to expect and when, as well as precautions to protect yourself from being scammed.

Tips to avoid being scammed

More than 19 million Californians have received their inflation assistance dollars, and more are waiting for their check to arrive by January 14.

To avoid becoming a victim of scammers, be sure to check first how much do you expect from California’s deflationary efforts. While you’re waiting for the money, don’t take any action or pay any money to get paid because the IRS already has the information it needs to send your check.

“Do not give your personal information to anyone,” the attorney general’s office wrote in November, “such as your bank account information, Social Security number or credit card information.”

Here a couple more tipsprovided by the Attorney General’s Office to remember while you wait for your lump sum payment of up to $1,050:

  1. Your payment schedule cannot be accelerated – Anyone who claims that they can get your money faster is a fraud.
  2. Ignore texts, emails or calls – Do not share personal information with anyone who contacts you in this way, even if they claim to be working with the government.
  3. Debit card recipients: Know what to look out for – You will receive your prepaid debit card in an envelope marked “Not a bill and not an ad. Important information about your tax refund for the middle class.’

If you’re expecting a prepaid debit card, look out for an envelope that looks like this:

California Inflation Assistance Debit Card.jpg
California taxpayers expecting their inflation-adjusted debit card payment should expect a branded white envelope with the State of California stamp. California Franchise Tax Office

The front of the prepaid card should have “Visa” printed on it and the issuing bank should have “My Bank Direct” printed on the back.

The information inside the white envelope should also explain that this is your middle class tax refund debit card. When it all comes true you’re ready to start swinging the plastic.

Report fraud

Report fraud by calling the Franchise Tax Department at 800-852-5711 between 7 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday.

Fraud can also be reported online through the tax office Fraud report.

Will I get a debit card?

A little more than a month later, according to v Franchise Taxation Departmentmore than 3.5 million debit cards have been issued to eligible California taxpayers.

You should expect a debit cardaccording to the IRS website, if any of the following apply to you:

  • Filed a paper declaration
  • Had a balance due
  • Got my 2021 year Golden State Stimulus payment by check
  • You received a tax refund on the check regardless of how it was filed
  • You received your 2020 tax refund by direct deposit, but have since changed your banking institution or bank account number
  • Received an advance payment from a tax service provider or paid a tax professional’s fees with a tax refund

When will my debit card be sent?

Debit card recipients should receive payment in the mail within two weeks of the date of issue.

Debit cards were to be mailed by Nov. 19 to previous Golden State Stimulus recipients whose last names begin with AM. Here is the mailing time frame, according to website of the tax inspectoratefor other previous Golden State stimulus check recipients with NZ surnames:

  • Surnames N.V. will be sent from November 20 to December 3
  • WZ names will be sent from December 4th to 10th


  • AK surnames will be sent from December 5 to 17
  • LZ names will be sent out from December 19th to December 31st

Eligible California taxpayers who have changed their banking information since 2020 tax returns are filed, expect the debit card to be sent between December 17th and January 14th.

What do you want to know about living in Sacramento? Ask your most important questions to our California utilities team in the modules below or via email

Related stories from the Sacramento Bee

Brianna Taylor is a feature reporter for The Sacramento Bee. Brianna also reported in Missouri and Maryland. She graduated from Morgan State University.

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