MADISON COUNTY, Ala. — In July, the Internal Revenue Service began sending the first monthly Child Tax Credit payments to millions of families across the country; the result of one part of a stimulus package passed by congress back in March. Scammers wasted no time trying to use this to their advantage.
“We know its happening and we’re trying to help people avoid losing money to begin with,” North Alabama Better Business Bureau President Elizabeth Garcia said.
Garcia says a new scam is taking hold: con artists trying to take advantage of taxpayers after the IRS began rolling out monthly child tax credit payments.
“The red flag is that it’s unsolicited,” she said.” You receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and saying, ‘hey, you’re eligible for this enhanced child tax credit payment, you need to register’.”
Each family can get up to $300 per child each month. Garcia says anyone eligible for the tax credit would get it automatically based off their tax returns, but scammers are preying on those who may not know that, pretending to help them get enrolled for the payments, then tricking them into sharing personal information.
It’s not just phone calls either, scammers are trying pre-recorded messages, email and texts too. All of these are things the IRS would never do to contact you about the payments.
Since the program is new, she says some are more likely to pick up a call or respond anyway.
“We tend to want to believe that the person is who they say they are on the line, in the email or in the text, but it’s very important in this day in age to be skeptical, always be skeptical,” she said. “If you do fall for this kind of a scam, effectively you are at risk of identity theft because you’ve given that person possible personally identifiable information, social security number, bank numbers, credit card numbers and so forth, so you should treat it as an identity theft problem.”
Garcia said the first thing to do is report the scam to the IRS and your bank so they can help get you back on track with as little damage as possible.