IRS Warns Parents About Child Tax Credit Scammers

PHILADELPHIA PA – Parents of school-age children, take heed. Criminals are using new scams related to the 2021 federal Child Tax Credit to steal both money and personal information, according to a warning from the criminal investigation unit of the Internal Revenue Service field office in Center City.

Millions of American families began receiving advance credit payments in mid-July, and others still await them. As a result, criminals are already engaging what the IRS calls “innovative tactics to take advantage of unwitting victims.” Taxpayers should exercise caution in accepting or replying to phone, e-mail, text, and social media messages that target eligible families, it added.

The Biden Administration reports most families eligible for 2021 credits will receive the full amount of $3,600 for each child under age 6, and $3,000 for each child ages 6 to 17. The money is being distributed by the IRS as monthly payments of $300 per child under age 6, and $250 per child between the ages of 6 and 17.

Be forewarned, the IRS urged: any communication offering assistance to sign up for the credit – or more recently, to speed up monthly payments – is likely a scam. The IRS strongly suggests those who receive unsolicited calls or messages should not provide personal information, click on links, or open attachments. They may lead to money loss, tax-related fraud, and identity theft, agents noted.

“Scammers never stop, and they will assuredly be trying to use the advance Child Tax Credit payments as an opportunity to swindle honest citizens,” said Joleen Simpson, acting special agent in charge of IRS criminal investigation. “To avoid falling victim to these fraudsters, people should always stay on guard. Be leery of unsolicited calls requesting money or their personal information.”

The IRS said it 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 credit;
  • Leave pre-recorded, urgent, or threatening messages. Aggressive calls warning taxpayers about a lawsuit or arrest are fake;
  • Call taxpayers asking them to provide or verify financial information so they can obtain the monthly credit payments.
  • Ask for payment via a gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency.

The agency is using information from 2020 or 2019 tax returns to automatically enroll those eligible for advance credit payments. Taxpayers do not need to take any additional action. Taxpayers who are not required to file a tax return, or who have not provided the IRS their information, should see this webpage for basic information.

Photo by Sammy Williams via Pixabay, used under license