COLORADO SPRINGS — Using pandemic related schemes fraudsters have managed to steal almost $500 million from hundreds of thousands of Americans who say they fell for it. News5 takes a deep dive into the latest Covid relief scam and it's one parents should know about.
Since the start of the pandemic people have lost on average $366 to fraudsters peddling Covid-related scams. When stimulus checks and PPP loans rolled out scammers took individuals and businesses for millions of dollars. Now they're setting their sights on those child tax credit payments.
"The American Rescue Act of 2021 included that temporary enhancement for the child tax credit which was intended to help millions of families struggling to recover from the pandemic. And this has just really been a heyday for criminals," said IRS Criminal Investigator Lauren Kocinski.
The reason fraudsters are aggressively zeroing in on parents right now is because the IRS is sending $15 Billion to 35 million families between now and December. They want to get their hands on some of that money, or at least some sensitive information.
"Anyone that says there's an urgent matter or they're threatening you or aggressive calls, all of that, scams," said Kocinski.
If you're eligible for child tax credit payments investigators say you should know some key points. You do not have to take action to get those payments. Also, government officials will not contact you. That means so no emails, calls, or text messages. If you get any correspondence this should be reported as a scam.
"So they might have information from data bases or other sources on who actually is a parent and who will be eligible. So they are really going to hone in and make those emails, texts and correspondence more detailed," said CSU Global's Dr. Fraud J. Michael Skiba.
Skiba says one thing the fraudsters are after might not be so obvious. They're trying to verify and steal your child's social security number.
"They can apply for government benefits. They can apply for an authorized user on a credit card or they can apply for certain loans like student loans so that absolutely is valuable. Now why it's possibly more valuable than information on an adult is because it's going to go under the radar longer," said Skiba.
Here are some things you can do to protect your child's identity and credit. First, you can do a credit check on your child. You can then freeze your child's credit and set up alerts so if any credit action is taken in their name you'll be notified.
Federal investigators say they need help from consumers who are engaged by fraudsters. Any information you can gather like names, where they are from, what they're asking for could help connect cases together so investigators can go after the people responsible.
To report scam to the IRS visit: