• The first wave of payments or stimulus checks was sent out by the IRS on April 11
  • IRS warned people of scammers and gave advice on how non-tax filers can claim payments
  • People who don’t have direct deposit will be paid by a paper check sent in the mail

The first wave of payments or stimulus checks was sent out by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Saturday (April 11), kicking off the much-awaited process to put money into the bank accounts of individuals struggling with job losses amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

The agency posted Saturday on Twitter confirming the transfer: "#IRS deposited the first Economic Impact Payments into taxpayers' bank accounts today. We know many people are anxious to get their payments; we'll continue issuing them as fast as we can.”

The payments are part of the $2.2 trillion CARES act signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27. President Trump Sunday declared all 50 states are major disaster areas; the first time in the country’s history that this has happened. Economic activity other than “essential services” has completely come to a standstill.

The key to getting a quick payment in the first or second wave is to have a valid Social Security number on file with the IRS, or with the Social Security Administration, along with direct deposit information (a bank account number and routing number).

The IRS said the deposits will continue in the coming days; individuals who have filed tax returns for 2018 or 2019 and authorized a direct deposit will be the first ones to get the checks.

People who don’t have direct deposit will be paid by a paper check sent in the mail that may take some time to get to the address on the envelope. Those checks, some reports said, will be issued only in May.

Disasters, economic or caused by nature, are always opportunities for scammers. The pandemic may be the biggest opportunity of all considering the amounts of money involved with the stimulus payments.

The IRS announcement was followed by a flurry of Twitter messages from the agency warning people of the scams, giving advice on how non-tax filers can claim payments and how much their payments will be. The scam advice focused on not giving out personal or banking information for those offering to “help” in getting the payment.

The agency tweeted early Monday morning, with a link to its website: "DYK what to do if you receive a scam phone call from someone pretending to the #IRS? Hang up and report it! Stay ahead of scams: #IRSTaxTip"

The IRS webpage quite clearly stated it “doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.”

Internal Revenue Service - IRS
A view of the Internal Revenue Service building is seen on March 27, 2019, in Washington, D.C. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. is now experiencing the peak of the pandemic with about 30,000 new cases reported each day since April 1, according to Worldometer, a statistics website. The total number of deaths is at 22,115 as of Monday morning. The past two days have seen a slight reduction in new cases and deaths that may signal the downslope of the coronavirus “curve” has finally arrived.

The stimulus payments are certainly welcome but the underlying worries include the long term damage the pandemic will have on the economy and if hanging an “Open for Business” sign too early will welcome a second wave of COVID-19 with no proven treatment yet available.