Identity Thieves Use the Child Tax Credit to Scam Parents
Identity thieves are using a new tactic to trick the unwary and steal their personal information, the Federal Trade Commission has reported. This new tactic resembles the classic tactic of impersonating a government official but with a new twist of using the American Rescue Plan to dupe victims.
The American Rescue Plan is a law giving pandemic relief to American families by raising the value of the child tax credit. The IRS will be sending payments out in monthly installments to families across the country. Depending on the age of children, families may receive payments of up to $250 or $300 for every child. So far, the IRS has already paid $61 billion out to families across the country.
However, these payments have proven to be a tempting target for identity thieves to trick victims looking to acquire their payments or keep them coming. These criminals pretend to be IRS agents and send potential victims fake phone calls, texts, emails, and even messages through social media. These criminals will then lead the victims to cleverly designed fake websites that will steal the victim’s information or even money. These websites may look virtually exactly like the real thing and use convincing language and URLs.
However, it is important to remember that the IRS is using tax information that they already have on file in order to distribute payments. This information is collected from regular personal annual tax returns. Though, for those who haven’t filed a return, there is a new online portal that low-income earners and others can use to sign up to receive their payment. Be sure to use the official government website and check the URL to ensure it is not suspicious. Sometimes these will be a single letter off to confuse visitors.
Remember that no government agency, the IRS included, will ever ask for your personal information or any financial data through texts, emails, or social media. Only scammers will do this. Plus, the IRS never uses robocalls, nor will they ask you to verify financial information in order to receive your tax payment. Lastly, if anything claiming to be the IRS asks for a payment in order to provide you with your payment, it is a scam.
If you have already suffered from one of these scams, then you will need to inform your bank, and you should consider placing a freeze on your credit. It may also be wise to consider performing a self-background check. This can let you know if your identity has been misused for criminal acts, which can become truly serious.