personal finance

Child Tax Credit Scams Still Trapping the Unwary

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  • Scammers are using the child tax credit to steal money and personal information from unsuspecting Americans, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Criminals pose as IRS agents, sending bogus e-mails, texts, phone calls and social media messages.
  • There is still time to sign up for monthly payments of the child tax credit, up to $250 or $300 per kid. Those with questions should consult

Scammers are using the child tax credit to try to steal from unsuspecting Americans, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Often, these criminals perpetuate a type of "government impersonator" scam. They contact people by phone, text, e-mail and social media, pretending to be IRS agents and directing victims to fake websites that seem legitimate.

The American Rescue Plan, a pandemic relief law passed in March, temporarily enhanced the value of the child tax credit and authorized the IRS send funds in monthly installments through 2021.

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Families can get up to $250 or $300 a month per child, depending on their age. The IRS has issued $61 billion to households since July.

"Many people have gotten their advance Child Tax Credit payments this year, but scammers are taking advantage of this new program to try to trick you out of money or information," Emily Wu, an attorney in the FTC's Division of Consumer and Business Education, wrote.

The IRS is issuing payments automatically to families based on tax information it has on file. The agency collects that data from annual tax returns or, for those who don't file a return, via a new online portal through which low earners and others can sign up.

Families have until Nov. 15 to sign up for advance payments this year. They can sign up through (Others will receive the credit's full value during the 2022 tax season.)

Individuals with questions should consult

The IRS and other government agencies will never ask for personal or financial information over text, e-mail or social media, according to the FTC. Scammers will.

The IRS also doesn't use robocalls and won't call to ask taxpayers to give or verify financial information for a child tax credit payment, the FTC said. The IRS will also never ask for a payment by gift card, wire transfer or cryptocurrency, or ask for payment to get financial help.

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