While millions of American families started receiving the advance Child Tax Credit payments last week, criminals were already looking for innovative tactics to take advantage of unwitting victims. Taxpayers should be on the lookout for a variety of phone, e-mail, text message and social media scams targeting families eligible for the credit. Any communication offering assistance to sign up for the Child Tax Credit or to speed up the monthly payments is likely a scam. When receiving unsolicited calls or messages, taxpayers should not provide personal information, click on links, or open attachments as this may lead to money loss, tax-related fraud, and identity theft.
“As the country continues to grapple with the financial fall-out of the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers and criminals continue to evolve their efforts to steal the assistance the government provides, from those that need it the most,” said Acting Special Agent In Charge, Donald “Trey” Eakins, IRS Criminal Investigation, Chicago Field Office. “Be aware of those that try to steal the tax credit that you are entitled to, and if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Although scammers constantly come up with new schemes to try and catch taxpayers off-guard, there are simple ways to identify if it is truly the IRS reaching out.
• The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via e-mail, text messages, or social media channels to request personal or financial information, even information related to the Child Tax Credit.
• The IRS does not leave pre-recorded, urgent, or threatening messages. Aggressive calls warning taxpayers about a lawsuit or arrest are fake.
• The IRS will not call taxpayers asking them to provide or verify financial information so they can obtain the monthly Child Tax Credit payments.
• The IRS will not ask for payment via a gift card, wire transfer or cryptocurrency.
If you are eligible for advance payments of the Child Tax Credit, the IRS will use information from your 2020 or 2019 tax return to automatically enroll you for advance payments. Taxpayers do not have to take any additional action. Taxpayers who are not required to file a tax return or who have not provided the IRS their information, may visit IRS.gov/childtaxcredit2021 to provide basic information for the Child Tax Credit.
To report suspicious IRS-related phishing and online scams, visit IRS.gov