The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division is warning taxpayers about Child Tax Credit-related scams, which criminals may use to steal money and personal information.
While millions of American families started receiving the advance Child Tax Credit payments last week, criminals were already looking for innovative tactics to take advance of unwitting victims, the IRS said. Taxpayers should be on the lookout for a variety of phone, email, 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, the IRS said.
The agency advises that 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.
Although scammers constantly come up with new schemes to try to catch taxpayers off guard, the IRS said there are simple ways to identify if it is truly the agency reaching out:
- The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information, even information 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.
For taxpayers eligible for advance payments of the Child Tax Credit, the IRS will use information from their 2020 or 2019 tax return to automatically enroll them for advance payments. Taxpayers do not have to take 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.