California Warns Residents to Claim Tax ‘Refunds’ Before They Are Stolen

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 01: California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news
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The State of California is warning residents who may have received an inflation “refund” in the form of a bank card to withdraw their funds as soon as possible because thieves are targeting the refunds in fraud scams.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), facing reelection, announced that his administration would be sending “inflation relief” checks to residents in the form of EBT cards to help pay for expensive gas and other goods.

The refunds were conveniently timed to begin arriving in residents’ mailboxes right before the election. Many people received letters that included a special EBT card loaded with refunds of up to $1,050 per household.

But when people try to access the funds — which are not technically refunds and had to be authorized separately by the legislature — many people are discovering the funds have already been withdrawn from their accounts.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

To prevent fraud, the Franchise Tax Board is urging Californians who receive their Middle Class Tax Refund on a Visa debit card to withdraw the money or transfer the funds to a bank account as soon as possible.

Since at least December, some card recipients who tried to withdraw funds or check their balance after activation discovered that they had been depleted by thieves, some of whom spent the money at out-of-state retailers.

Users must activate their cards by calling 1-800-240-0223 and setting up a Personal Identification Number. There is no fee to transfer funds to a domestic bank account, but they’ll have to provide Money Network with personal information. They can also withdraw funds without a fee at an ATM that is part of the Allpoint or MoneyPass network. There is a small fee for out-of-network ATMs and over-the-counter cash withdrawals at a bank.

Alternatively, users can cancel the card and have the funds sent on a paper check by calling 1-800-240-0223 and choosing option four.

Local ABC affiliate KGO reported:

It’s a stunning turnabout. More than nine million debit cards have gone out, loaded with about $5 billion of taxpayer money, one time payments meant for inflation relief. But hackers have taken a bite — officials won’t say how much — but they are urging cardholders to cash in the cards before scammers do.

Tatiana Villeda of Hayward and her husband realized scammers had used the $350 they had remaining on their $1,050 debit card, spending it at a Marshalls store in Texas and a pizza place in Illinois.

“And I’m like, wait, I’m in California, and never traveled to Texas,” she said.

Some residents received the “refunds” directly in their bank account. For others, they are finding that they have to scramble to secure their money — and have to deal with out-of-state banks that issued the cards and money.

It is unclear how widespread the fraud is. Economists panned Newsom’s proposal at the time, noting that sending more cash to taxpayers was unlikely to relieve inflation and was likely to make it even worse.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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