Scammers Are Coming for Your Child Tax Credit Payments. Here's How to Stop Them

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  • There are two more installment payments of the Child Tax Credit this year.
  • Here are some steps to take to prevent those payments from landing in the hands of criminals.

Criminals won't hesitate to steal your upcoming payments. Don't let that happen.

The boosted Child Tax Credit has already worked wonders for a lot of families. So far, it's pulled millions of kids out of poverty, reduced incidents of food insecurity, and helped many shore up their finances in the wake of the pandemic.

What makes the Child Tax Credit unique this year is that its value is not only higher, but also half of the credit is being paid in the form of monthly installments. Normally, the credit is paid as a lump sum in the form of a tax refund.

The first monthly Child Tax Credit payment to hit bank accounts went out in July, and there are two more payments scheduled to arrive this year in November and December. But if you're expecting those payments, you'll need to be careful.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a warning that scammers are targeting Child Tax Credit recipients. If you're not careful, you could end up losing some of the incoming money you're entitled to.

Avoiding scams at all costs

Financial fraud has been rampant during the pandemic. Previously, scammers had targeted stimulus check recipients, hoping to get their hands on that money. Now, the FTC cautions that they're trying similar tactics with the Child Tax Credit.

Scammers have been reaching out to people pretending to be government agents and asking for financial details to verify the status of payments. And they're quite good at creating fake email accounts and websites that look legitimate.

What'll typically happen is that a scammer will send an email or text message asking someone to click on a link to verify financial data. If that link is clicked on and banking details are entered, that could be enough to give a criminal access to incoming payments. Worse yet, if you enter enough personal details, a criminal might manage to steal your identity, and that could result in a world of devastating consequences.

How can you avoid falling victim to a Child Tax Credit scam? It's easy -- don't respond to unsolicited communication.

As a matter of course, the IRS will not call, email, or text you asking you to verify financial information. If you receive any communication along those lines, you should assume it's not legitimate. If the IRS needs to get in touch with you about your Child Tax Credit payments (or any other matter), it will send you a notice by mail.

What to do if someone tries to scam you

If a criminal contacts you in an effort to steal your Child Tax Credit payments or in an effort to instigate any other type of fraud, it's important to report that activity to the FTC. While you may be savvy enough to avoid falling into a trap that causes you to lose money or have your identity compromised, others may not be in the same boat. By looping in the FTC, you might help stop a criminal in their tracks and prevent other people from becoming victims.

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