ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB)– If you have children living with you, you should be getting a check from the government starting next week to help with their care. But, the Better Business Bureau is warning you to watch out for scammers trying to catch you off-guard.

It is all about the expanded Child Tax Credit that is part of the American Rescue Plan Congress passed in March. The new tax credit is now the largest ever and scammers are all set to provide the help you really should not need while they are helping themselves to your money.

Congress passed, and President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan in March, which expanded the Child Tax Credit and families will start getting their share next week.

For each child six years and under, the family will get a $3,600 credit deducted from their taxes.. for those from six to 17, the credit is $3,000. The IRS is sending half the credit in six monthly payments starting next week, families will get the other half when they file their taxes.

Melanie McGovern of the Better Business Bureau for Upstate New York reminds us most families are unlikely to need help. If they received their stimulus payments, or they have filed a tax return in the last two years, the IRS already has their bank account information, or an address to send a check.

“The scammers are going to try to take advantage via text message, telephone calls, emails, social media messaging. Just to remember, the government does not reach out that way.”

But scammers may pose as something other than a government agency, and that is where it can get tricky. Some families don’t bring in enough money to file a tax return.. and there are income limits on the Child Tax Credit, all leading to crooks passing themselves off as experts who can help.. that is, help themselves to your money.

“You don’t have to opt into this. There is no way to get an advance payment, the payments will start on July 15, it is money that you are already due. This is the money you get when you are filing taxes, it is just coming a little early, this is not something extra.”

Most families don’t have to do anything to receive their tax credit funds from the government, but there are certain circumstances that need special attention. The IRS has a guide to the Child Tax Credit on its website.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.