As a new sickness travels the world and people struggle with learning how to live with the changes its leaving in its wake, money is tight for many people. We’re out of work, work is slow, advertisers aren’t ponying up like they were a few months ago, the whole nine yards – and for many, paying rent has become a struggle.
Enter Congress, who authorized a relief package that included direct cash payments to a large majority of taxpayers. The IRS quickly worked up a way for people to check the status of those payments online, but it turns out there’s a downside (because people suck sometimes) – landlords are using the information on their tenets lease to check their deposits.
You only need a person’s social security number, birthday, and current address to find out when and if the money will be sent along – information a landlord has on file.
Multiple people on Twitter have shared horror stories of their landlords informing them they know they received their money and are they going to use some of it to pay rent.
Guess what? According to lawyers everywhere, this is super illegal.
When you use the “Get My Payment” portal, you click through an acknowledgment that the use of the system is for authorized use only.
“Unauthorized use of this system is prohibited and subject to criminal and civil penalties, including all penalties applicable to willful unauthorized access (UNAX) or inspection of taxpayer records.”
Checking someone else’s status doesn’t qualify as an authorized use. At all.
If you become aware that your landlord has checked your relief payment status, you might want to check with a lawyer, or at the very least, file a police report.
That said, there’s no reason to believe this practice is widespread, and many landlords have really stepped up to the plate to help there tenants in these unprecedented times.
So give yours a break, unless you suspect they’re not playing by the rules. We can all use a friendly face these days, and good neighbors are hard to find!