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Scammers Targeting Parents Who Qualify For Expanded Child Tax Credit; 'The IRS Is Never Going To Call You'

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Parents who qualified for the federal government's expanded child tax credit are now being targeted by scammers.

New Jersey's Office of Homeland Security said Monday it's already received more than a dozen complaints, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported.

Jasmine Morrison of Newark received $500 last month. It was money she sorely needed to support her two kids, ages 7 and 11.

"The grocery bills being pretty significant," Morrison said.

She's one of many New Jerseyans the state says are being targeted by scammers who ask for personal information in order to continue receiving the expanded monthly child tax credits.

"The minute you hear, 'We're calling to inform you that you're behind on your taxes.' You just are like, 'No, no no.' And you hang up," said Morrison.

"Individuals are receiving phone calls, text messages and emails from scammers purporting to be from the IRS," said Mike Geraghty, director of cybersecurity for the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

The department says victims are told to verify information through a fraudulent website that collects social security numbers and birthdates.

In some cases, the scammers say they could expedite the monthly payments and instead give a lump sum. In others, the person is told they were overpaid and must return the money in the form of a gift card or they will face penalties.

"The IRS is never going to call you," said Paul Oster from Better Qualified. "They're never going to email you... Unfortunately, or fortunately, everything's still done through snail mail and the United States Post Office."

The state says you can help them track down the scammers by saving as much information as possible.

"Just take the number down," Geraghty said. "We collect those, and this way we have a common operating picture of what the landscape of these calls are."

Click Here To Report A Scam

Project Ready, which helps Newark families in need, is spreading the word about the scam.

"It's upsetting," said Lamar Washington, a Project Ready community organizer. "It doesn't make it right for them to try to take advantage of people who are completely vulnerable in these situations."

The state says none of the bad actors have been caught.

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