While millions of American families started receiving the advance Child Tax Credit payments last week, criminals were already looking for innovative tactics to take advantage of unwitting victims. 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. Special Agent Todd Wacaser explains.

“This is us trying to get ahead of potential fraud,” Wacaser said. “We are trying to protect tax payers and the vulnerable population from bad actors that would use any kind of tax payment to defraud individuals or the federal government.”

According to Wacaser, taxpayers should be on the lookout for a variety of phone, e-mail, text message and social media scams targeting families eligible for the credit.

“Our big push is to make sure that people know that the IRS, in general, doesn’t contact taxpayers via email, text messages, or social media,” Wacaser said. “We don’t threaten people with legal action if they don’t call or give us information over the phone. We don’t ask you to verify financial information over the phone so you can get your Child Tax Credit. We don’t ask for payment via gift card, wire transfer, crypto currency, or anything like that. You don’t have to pay the IRS to get your Child Tax Credit.”

When receiving unsolicited calls or messages, taxpayers should not provide personal information, click on links, or open attachments. Wacaser said folks can contact the IRS directly if they need to report suspicious IRS-related scams.

“If you have questions about whether or not you have fallen victim to it, you can make an appointment with Tax Payer Services in one of the many places in Montana or other states,” Wacaser said. “You can also visit IRS.gov. There is a lot of information on the website about what you can do and who you can talk to. There is a whole section about the Child Tax Credit.”

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. Wacaser said taxpayers do not have to take any additional action.

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