Taking back the ID

Fraudsters fleecing with child tax credits and QR scams

U.S. federal government agencies will never text, email or contact citizens on social media or via robocalls. But scammers will. Here’s information on child tax credit, broadband benefit program, pandemic-related economic payments and fake QR frauds.

Helen, a computer technician at a security company, thought she knew most everything about fraudster scams. But she tripped up when she received a text message supposedly from the U.S. IRS telling her to go to a website to learn more about the child tax credit program. She and her partner had three children, so she entered personally identifiable information (PII) on the site’s forms. However, the website was fake, and scammers used her PII to clean out her bank account.

This case is fictional, but with the first release of the U.S. child tax credit payments in July 2021, fraudsters began contacting parents via phone calls, emails and texts to guide them to bogus websites to steal their identities.

Since then, talks have stalled over the Build Back Better social spending bill that would’ve extended monthly child tax credits. But as of January, hopes remained that President Joe Biden could still push through a slimmed-down version of the legislation that would include payments to families. Failing that, families can still file for the tax credit, albeit a less generous one. (See “Child tax credit: Here’s what to know for 2022,” by Sarah Foster, Bankrate, Dec. 24, 2021; “How the White House hopes to save Biden’s Build Back Better bill,” by Andrea Shalal and Jarrett Renshaw, Reuters, Jan. 18, 2022; and “Child Tax Credit 2022: Could you receive a double monthly payment in February?” Marca English, Jan. 19, 2022.)

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