The new Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments have already become the target of scammers. Approximately 40 million households will receive CTC payments of up to $300 per child via direct deposit, debit cards, or paper checks. The Internal Revenue Service and Federal Trade Commission warn that scammers have seen this as a new opportunity to steal money and/or private information.
How Child Tax Credit payment scams work
There are many variations of these scams, so it’s important to remain vigilant. One of the more common variations involves scammers posing as the IRS and contacting potential victims by phone, email, or social media. Alternatively, they may not identify themselves as being with a particular organization, but say they are able to “help” ensure the victim receives their funds. These scammers will ask for information and/or provide instructions that enable them to intercept and steal victims’ payments.
Another version of the scam that is likely to become increasingly common is spoofed (i.e. fake) websites that mimic the look of real IRS sites. The IRS has announced that it is launching two websites where people can update their banking details and information about their dependents. One website will be for annual tax filers and one will be for individuals and households whose income falls below the threshold required to file. While these sites will make it easier for both taxpayers and the IRS to manage payments, it opens the door for scammers to create look-alike sites that steal information and funds.
How to avoid becoming a victim of Child Tax Credit payment scams
- Never share information with anyone claiming to from the IRS via phone, text, email, or social media. All correspondence from the IRS is sent through USPS mail.
- Do not update your information through the IRS portal(s) unless you’ve had a change in address, income, number of dependents, or banking information since you last filed your taxes. If you have not had any changes, you do not need to take any action to receive your payments.
- Double check the web address before submitting any information. All authentic government websites end in .gov.
- Remember that only the IRS is issuing payments. There are no third-party organizations who help distribute payments. Anyone offering to “help” is a scammer.
- Never share sensitive data with an unknown source or anyone you’re not certain is legitimate.
What to do if you’ve been targeted