Consumer Alert: The BBB warns of child tax credit scams

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — This consumer alert concerns your tax credit, your cash, and the crooks who want it. All week, we’ve been discussing your advance child tax credit. According to the IRS, 90% of Americans with children will start getting monthly payments on July 15. And the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning us that scammers will be busy.

We’ve already seen how they operate. When the government started sending out stimulus payments, scammers began sending text messages, emails, and Facebook messages, promising to help you apply for your stimulus money or saying they could help you get your money sooner.

You will get your first advance child tax credit payment in about two weeks, and the BBB says to be on the lookout for scams in the days ahead. After all, the BBB saw it all when we were getting stimulus checks.

"People were getting text messages and emails saying get your stimulus early, and we know that that’s not a thing,” Melanie McGovern, communications director of the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York, said. “So, what people were doing is they were clicking on these links that they were getting in a text message or an email, and they were asking for all kinds of personal information. What we need to remember is you will get it when you get it. There’s no way to get it early, so if you do that text or that email, definitely a scam."

The BBB warns scammers messages often have links that can unleash malware on your device. You also should beware of text messages that promise to help you enroll for your advance child tax credit payments. If you filed a tax return, you don’t need to enroll.

Here’s Deanna’s Do List of things to do instead.

  • Delete any text message, email, or social media message from anyone claiming to be from the IRS. The IRS uses snail mail.
  • If your check is mailed to you, sign up for Informed Delivery. It’s free through USPS. The post office will email you a picture of your mail before it’s delivered so you can be there to pick it up. The IRS confirms countless checks were stolen from mailboxes when stimulus payments were mailed.
  • If you share custody of a child, be sure you know who is eligible to get those checks. The IRS has information for guardians who share custody.
  • Report any scams to the BBB, the FTC, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, and the New York Attorney General’s Office.

If you don’t make enough to file taxes, you are still eligible for the advance child tax credit. The monthly payments do not count as income and it will not affect your federal benefits like SNAP or WIC.

So, if you don’t file taxes, but you do have custody of children, you need to sign up for your advance child tax credit payments. Click here to do that.