The Internal Revenue Service this week announced in a press release that they have begun sending more than 36 million letters to taxpayers who could be eligible to receive monthly advance payments of the 2021 Child Tax Credit, which are set to begin on July 15. Those who the IRS finds are eligible for this Advance Child Tax Credit will receive a second letter providing more specifics about the upcoming payments.
This news may come as a shock to Americans who don’t closely follow changes in tax law—and where there’s uncertainty (and money), there are scammers. Unfortunately, that means families who could really use the financial help during a pandemic are once again the target of bottom-feeding criminals.
The Federal Trade Commission is warning Americans to be suspicious of any messages they receive in the coming days, weeks, and months—especially phone calls, emails, texts, and social media ads promising bigger, faster Advance Child Tax Credit payments.
How can taxpayers avoid Advance Child Tax Credit phishing scams?
To make sure that nobody falls for the tidal wave of scams that will inevitably follow these monthly payments, the FTC provides the following advice:
- Only the IRS will be sending these payments. Anyone trying to “help” you get your child tax credit is really after your money.
- The government will NEVER call, text, email, or DM you out of the blue, asking for money or information. Keep your money—and your Social Security, bank account, debit and credit card numbers—to yourself.
- Nobody legit will ever demand that you pay by gift card, wire transfer through companies like Money Gram or Western Union, or cryptocurrency. That’s a scam, every time.
Being prepared to avoid a phishing scam is just one piece of the puzzle. The FTC says everyone needs to report any suspicious messages about the Advance Child Tax Credit to ReportFraud.FTC.gov. That helps government agencies gather information about phishing scams that they can pass on to us, which in turn help us all avoid having criminals steal our information and money.
Where can taxpayers learn more about the REAL Advance Child Tax Credit?
The IRS will be posting all current information about the Advance Child Tax Credit on the aptly named webpage, “Advance Child Tax Credit Payments in 2021.” Be sure to bookmark IRS.gov/ChildTaxCredit2021 for the latest updates and resources—like the two upcoming online tools that will help taxpayers determine eligibility for or opt out of the advance payments.
Source: “More money is coming to families…and scammers are ready,” FTC.gov;