Wage Theft During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is busy and stressful for many workers, especially hourly workers in the retail, food service, and delivery sectors. During this busy time, employers are less likely to pay workers for all hours worked or to pay overtime rates. It is important for workers to understand common practices that result in unpaid wages and incorrect hourly rates, also referred to as wage theft.

What to look out for

According to the US Department of Labor, common employment law violations during the holiday season include:

  • Misclassifying employees as independent contractors to evade liability under employment laws
  • Failing to pay salespeople and cashiers for time spent prepping or closing out registers
  • Requiring stock room and warehouse workers to work through breaks without pay
  • Requiring workers to clean or perform closing duties after they have clocked out
  • Failing to pay promised holiday rates or overtime rates

Who is at risk

Temporary holiday and seasonal workers are particularly vulnerable to wage theft. Employers count on these temporary workers to be unfamiliar with their employment rights and too busy to keep careful track of hours worked. Many temporary or seasonal workers are hired through subcontracted companies or temporary staffing firms, making it even more difficult to track down unpaid wages after the holiday rush is over.

What to do

If you think that your employer isn’t paying you proper wages for all hours worked, it is important to keep records of your pay and hours. Make sure to keep any records of agreed upon pay rates, paystubs, and actual hours worked. It is also a good idea to keep records of any communication with your employer, manager, or supervisor regarding your schedule, hours worked, and pay rates. Pay close attention to any differences between promised overtime or holiday pay and the amount you are actually paid.

The US Department of Labor has a free smartphone app to help workers track their hours.

Learn more

You can learn more about your workplace rights in North Carolina by calling the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Bureau at 1-800-625-2267 (1-800-NC-LABOR). You can also file a Wage Complaint with the Wage and Hour Bureau; more information is available on the NCDOL website.

If you would like to discuss possible unpaid wages, call us at 704-376-1600.

Protect yourself from holiday scams

‘Tis the season for holiday scams! We share some helpful tips on common scams and how to protect yourself.

Shopping Online

The two most prevalent scams when shopping online: 

  1. Non-delivery scam where a buyer pays for goods or services they find online, but those items are never received, and
  2. Non-payment scam involves goods or services being shipped, but the seller is never paid.

What to Do

  • Call your credit card company or you bank. Dispute any suspicious charges.
  • Report the scam to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at ic3.gov and Contact NC Attorney General’s Office 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file an online complaint
  • Use good cybersecurity hygiene:  DON’T click on links in emails, websites, or social media.  Go directly to the website yourself from a browser like chrome or edge.

Be Careful How You Pay for Items Online or By Phone

Never wire money directly to seller or load money onto “pre-paid” gift cards.  This is how scammers typically want payment and the money is often not recoverable.  Use a credit card or protected bank debit card if you do not have a credit card, check statements, dispute with your bank.  Gift cards are to give for gifts, not to make payments to another.

Phony package delivery notices

Scammers know people receive unexpected packages this season and will send realistic-looking delivery failure notifications so you’ll follow up and reveal personal info. Before you hand over information on the internet, head to your local post office or call the delivery service to verify the notification.  These notices can be by fake email or door hangers. 

Fake charities

These crop during major disasters and around the holidays. Leaflets and phone calls from organizations with familiar-sounding names will ask you to open your wallets for a good cause. To be safe, don’t give to any charity with whom you didn’t start the contact.  Check legitimacy through the North Carolina Secretary of StateCharity Watch, or Charity Navigator.

Robo-calls

Hang up or don’t answer!  If you do not recognize the number, let it go to voicemail, you can call back. Scammers use robo-calls to pitch holiday goods, fake products, work-from-home schemes and insurance scams. 

Avoid Social Security and IRS scams.

The government will not call and threaten you, ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.  Don’t “verify” your number or be scared into thinking your benefits are about to be suspended.  Hang up and contact SSA, IRS or other government agency directly yourself. 

Beware of “person in need” and grandparent scams.

Scammers pose as a grandchild, friend or relative stranded or otherwise in trouble and need money quickly and quietly.  They may ask for money by mail or gift card.  Don’t be pressured, hang up and call another relative or friend if you are still concerned to help you investigate.

Old school pickpocketing

Crowded malls and shopping centers are havens for pickpockets. To combat this threat, it’s best to wear purses across the body and wallets in front pockets or inside a closed jacket. Consider leaving the house with the bare minimum, like your ID and debit or credit card (the latter which offer fraud protection and security features not available with cash).

Be cautious of any unsolicited door-to-door sales pitch or offers. 

Don’t sign or agree to anything on the spot – if an offer seems too good to be true it probably is. 

The more you and loved ones know about scams, the easier it is to spot and avoid them. If you need help, contact the Advocacy Center’s Consumer Protection Team for more information.

Open Enrollment 2021: FAQ Videos

Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace (AKA Healthcare.gov) will open Nov. 1, 2021, and last until Jan. 15, 2022. 

Our federally trained Navigators answer your top health care coverage questions and share important information on where to find help during this year’s Open Enrollment. Siga el enlace para videos en español.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s go over some Open Enrollment vocabulary: ACA, Obamacare, Healthcare.gov, Marketplace
What are the benefits of health care coverage from the Marketplace?
Who qualifies for health care coverage, how do you apply, & why do you need to re-enroll?
What programs are available to help people pay for health care?
What is the Medicaid gap or coverage gap? What are some resources for people in the Medicaid gap?
What are the rules on health care coverage for immigrants?

Where can I get help learning about health care coverage and how to enroll?

Preguntas frecuentes en español

Revisemos algunos conceptos importantes sobre el período de inscripción abierta: ACA, Obamacare, Mercado de seguros y www.cuidadodesalud.gov

¿Cuáles son los beneficios de obtener Seguro de salud en el Mercado de Salud?
¿Quiénes califican para Seguro médico, cómo aplicar y por qué necesita reinscribirse?
¿Qué programas de asistencia financiera están disponibles para asistencia de Seguro médico?
¿Qué es el gap de cobertura de Medicaid?¿Cuáles son las opciones para las personas en el gap de cobertura de Medicaid?
¿Cuáles son las reglas para que los inmigrantes puedan acceder a Seguro de salud?
¿Dónde puedo encontrar más ayuda disponible sobre temas de Seguro de salud?

NAVIGATING OPEN ENROLLMENT: Healthcare.gov Income Questions

Need to enroll in a health insurance policy or update the one you have?

Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace (Healthcare.gov) is Nov. 1, 2021, to Jan. 15, 2022.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s health insurance navigators help families and individuals choose plans that are best for them within the Health Insurance Marketplace implemented under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). During this Open Enrollment Period, navigators have received calls and questions from Cabarrus, Mecklenburg and Union County residents about the household income section of the Healthcare.gov application. With this year’s pandemic and economic uncertainty, many have lost or changed employment and are struggling to estimate their income.

Listed below this video are some helpful tips and general guidelines. More of what to (and not to) include is available at charlottelegaladvocacy.org/getcovered.

Important points:

  • You must estimate your projected income for the upcoming year.
    • If you are unemployed, it may be difficult to do this. Estimate how much you would make if you returned to your previous job.
    • If you don’t have a set salary or wages (for example, if you are a freelance worker, seasonal worker, or run your own business), it will be easier to estimate your income if you have a copy of your tax return from last year on hand.
    • If you are self-employed, you should input your net income. Click here for more help estimating your self-employment income.
    • If your income is very low or if you are unemployed, and you or a family member falls into one of the following groups, you may qualify to receive Medicaid: children under 21, pregnant women, women with breast or cervical cancer, individuals age 65 or older, blind or disabled individuals, people in need of long-term care, or people receiving Medicare.
  • You must report changes in income.
    • During the year, you must go back into your application to report if your income goes up or down. This will keep your monthly premium at a manageable price and help to reduce the amount of financial assistance you may have to pay back, if any at all.
  • You can receive financial assistance.
    • Estimating your income as accurately as possible allows the Marketplace to determine your eligibility for financial assistance.

Be sure to include:

  • Anticipated changes in income
    • Consider these questions: How might your income change in the coming year? Are you expecting business to improve or worsen? Will you be getting a raise? Work more hours? Get a seasonal job? Will another household member get a job? Will you gain or lose a dependent?
  • The anticipated income of all household members
    • If another person in your tax household has health coverage through a different plan or program, you still need to include their income on your application. Marketplace financial assistance is based on the income of all tax household members. You will be able to clarify on the application which household members do not need health coverage. Tax household members not applying for coverage are not required to provide any other information except income information (e.g. They do not have to provide a Social Security Number).
  • Some disability-related income
    • Only include Social Security disability payments when estimating your income for next year. Do not include Supplemental Security Income, only Social Security retirement or disability payments.
  • Income from investments
    • Things like stocks and bonds.
  • Alimony
    • Include only if your divorce or separation was finalized before January 1, 2019.

Do NOT include:

  • Self-employment expenses
    • Subtract any self-employment expenses from your estimated income.
  • Some disability-related income
    • Do not include Veterans’ disability income payments, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, and workers’ compensation payments when estimating your income for next year.
  • Social Security payments for applications that have not yet be approved
    • You can update your Marketplace application later next year if your application is approved.
  • Alimony
    • Do not include if your divorce or separation was finalized on or after January 1, 2019.
  • Child support

Free appointments with a local navigator can be made using the statewide appointment hotline at 1-855-733-3711, or online at www.ncnavigator.net. Appointments are filling quickly!

More Resources:

More information on how to report your income: https://www.healthcare.gov/income-and-household-information/how-to-report/

And on what to include: https://www.healthcare.gov/income-and-household-information/income/

Food and Nutrition Services Change: October 2021

Almost all Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) households, known as SNAP nationwide, will see a modest increase in their FNS benefits starting October 1, 2021—generally between $12 to $16 per person per month. The exact amount for individual households may be different.  These changes will be made automatically by North Carolina Department of Social Services; you do not need to take any action.   

Why are FNS benefits increasing?

Almost all FNS households will see a modest increase in their FNS benefits for two reasons starting October 1, 2021: 

  1.  USDA recently re-evaluated the “Thrifty Food Plan (TFP)”, which is used to set FNS benefits.  The changes to the TFP reflect the current cost of a nutritionally adequate diet that households can purchase and prepare.  Congress directed the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to update the TFP, resulting in USDA increasing the purchasing power of FNS benefits for the first time since 1975.  As a result, maximum FNS benefits will be 21% higher than in prior years. 
  1. However, this change comes into effect at the same time a pandemic-related 15% increase in FNS benefits in place since January will come to an end on September 30, 2021. 

The net difference in these two changes will result in a modest increase for almost all FNS households of $12 to $16 per person per month. 

How much will my FNS benefits increase?

The table below shows maximum FNS benefit amounts for households under the prior 15% pandemic related boost (ending September 30, 2021) and what the new adjusted maximum benefit will be starting October 2021: 

Household SizeJan-Sept 2021 Maximum FNS Benefit with 15% BoostOct 2021-Sept 2022 Maximum FNS Benefit Per Revised TFP
1$234$250
2$430$459
3$616$658
4$782$835
The new minimum for 1- or 2- person households starting October 1, 2021 will be $20

When will my benefits change?

Households will see a modest increase in their monthly benefit in October 2021. For now, North Carolina is still providing monthly pandemic-related Emergency Allotments to give all FNS households the maximum allotment for their household size (or a supplement of up to $95 if they are already receiving the maximum or close to the maximum). Households that are not eligible to receive the maximum allotment for their household size without this supplement will see a decrease in their total monthly benefits when the temporary pandemic-related Emergency Allotments end in North Carolina.  It is not yet known when these Emergency Allotments will end. 

Are these changes permanent?

Yes, the increase to the non-pandemic FNS benefit amounts is permanent. In general, your FNS benefit amount may change based on your household’s circumstances. Additionally, your benefit allotment amount will change when North Carolina stops issuing Emergency Allotments (the supplemental benefits up to the maximum for each household size).  It is not yet known when these Emergency Allotments will end. You should continue reporting changes in your household circumstances to your local Department of Social Services.  

For more information, visit: SNAP Benefit Changes

How can Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy help?

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy fights to help families put food on the table and avoid food insecurity. We can help by:

  • Providing representation in appeals of overpayment claims, such as Intentional Program Violations (IPVs)
  • Disputing incorrect calculations of overpayment amounts or monthly benefit levels
  • Offering information and assistance to families having trouble accessing P-EBT (benefits to replace free or reduced-price meals for children whose schools are operating virtually or at reduced capacity due to the pandemic)

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy also advocates for policies at the state and federal level that promote equity in and improved access to food support programs and resources.

NAVIGATING OPEN ENROLLMENT: Top Four Mistakes To Avoid

Need to enroll in a health insurance policy or update the one you have?

Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace (Healthcare.gov) is Nov. 1, 2021, to Jan. 15, 2022.

Woman holds child while talking on the phone and taking notes

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s health insurance navigators help families and individuals choose plans that are best for them within the Health Insurance Marketplace implemented under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). During the Open Enrollment Period, navigators take appointments free of charge with residents of Cabarrus, Mecklenburg and Union County who are concerned about making common errors that could jeopardize their ability to maximize coverage and minimize cost. 

Find FAQs and how to make an appointment and keep reading to learn the top four mistakes navigators see people make on the Health Insurance Marketplace.

1. Missing the Deadline 

The Open Enrollment Period is going on now through Jan. 15, 2022. It is very difficult to qualify to sign up for health insurance on the Marketplace beyond the designated timeframe. Usually, adjustments or new enrollments are allowed only as a result of a major life event, such as marriage, divorce, job loss or a new child. 

2. Misunderstanding Costs 

During Open Enrollment, some people only look at the cost of premiums and don’t take into consideration the deductibles, copays, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximums. These are all important factors that will help determine your overall health care costs in 2022. 

3. Over- or Under-Insuring 

A basic high-deductible plan generally has the lowest monthly premium, but it requires the policy holder to spend more before full coverage kicks in. Some people mistakenly select this option because they think it will be cheapest, but they ultimately pay more out of pocket. Navigators suggest a quick assessment of your health care spending over the last couple of years. If you tend to undershoot your deductible, you might be better off moving to a high-deductible plan. If you usually hit your deductible before it resets, you could come out ahead by paying a higher premium for a heartier plan. Remember: The cost of many preventive measures, such as mammograms, colonoscopies and cholesterol screenings, are covered 100% before you meet your deductible and require no copay.  

4. Opting Out

A few years ago, not buying health insurance meant facing a potentially costly penalty. While that penalty no longer exists, forgoing coverage is a big mistake. A single illness or injury could total thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Still looking for the answer to your question or need additional guidance to get signed up on the Health Insurance Marketplace? Make an appointment with a navigator and sign up for additional information today.

Eviction Assistance and Resources

The eviction moratorium has ended, but there are still legal and financial resources available.

We brought together Juan Hernandez, Staff Attorney, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Erin Barbee, Senior Vice President Programs & Fund Development, DreamKey Partners, to answer common questions and share helpful information for community members facing eviction.

Find a copy of the presentation and links to key resources here.

Unemployment Insurance: FAQs

Where can I apply for benefits?

Apply online at des.nc.gov or by phone 1-888-737-0259. The quickest way to apply is online.

Why can’t I get through to the NC Division of Employment Security (“DES”) by phone?

DES has a high volume of callers requiring assistance due to COVID-19. Document any attempts to contact DES by phone. DES is working to improve this issue.

I am a self-employed worker or independent contractor – can I apply for unemployment insurance?

Self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers and others who did not traditionally qualify for North Carolina unemployment insurance and were receiving unemployment benefits through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) will no longer be eligible for unemployment after September 4, 2021. 

When should I submit weekly certifications?

Weekly certifications must be submitted on the DES website for every week you have filed for unemployment, including any weeks you are awaiting eligibility from DES. Failing to submit weekly certifications will delay benefit payment.

What does a “pending claim status” mean?

If your DES claim shows your claim is “pending” this means that DES is still assessing your eligibility for unemployment insurance. Continue to submit weekly certifications during this time.

Where can I receive additional information?

Visit the DES COVID-19 help website or review helpful resources available after the Federal Pandemic Unemployment benefit ends on September 4, 2021.

Beware of COVID-19 Foreclosure Rescue and Forbearance Assistance Scams

By Niayai Lavien

Many homeowners are facing increased financial hardships due to unemployment and COVID-19.  Scammers are taking advantage of the current economic fallout of the pandemic and employing elaborate scams to trick homeowners out of their properties. Older adults and the economically disadvantaged are more likely to be targets of these abusive practices.  

The CDC’s federal eviction and foreclosure moratorium ends on July 31, 2021. The moratorium allows individuals and families living in federally financed properties to stay in their homes throughout the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also allows families to receive financial assistance to stay current on their rent and mortgage payments.  

With the moratorium ending, consumers, especially homeowners, should know their options and learn how to prevent themselves from being scammed. 

A foreclosure rescue scam is when a scammer tricks a homeowner into signing away ownership of their home for dramatically less than its current worth. Scammers often target homeowners who are in the middle of foreclosure by promising that they can stop a foreclosure from happening while  hiding the fact that the homeowner is signing over title to the property.  

Scammers search public records to prey on homeowners who are in danger of foreclosure through failure to pay property taxes, mortgage or  homeowners association dues. They also look for older homeowners who have paid off their mortgage, but have trouble with the financial upkeep of their home.  

Common abusive practices include: 

  • Aggressive solicitation via phone, text message, mail and door hangers 
  • Downplaying the value of the home 
  • Pressure to sign a document or contract without the presence of a Realtor or attorney  

Whatever the particular factors surrounding a homeowner’s situation, the scammer’s goal is to steal the home’s dollar while a person is in a high pressure situation.  

Do’s and Don’ts of Foreclosure Scams:  

Don’t → Fall for unsolicited offers to buy your home or help you sell your home without any cost.  

Don’t →  Make a decision regarding your home without getting a second opinion.  

Don’t → Be pressured into signing any papers until you’ve talked with an attorney. 

Do → Consult with a HUD approved counseling agency to talk about your options. 

Do →  Be wary of out-of-state law firms, organizations and groups offering to provide assistance. 

Do → Contact Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Consumer Protection Team for assistance at 704-376-1600. 

Child Tax Credit 2021 Update: Advanced Payments

**Updated October 15, 2021. Original Post June 25, 2021.**

There have been important changes to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) that will help many families receive advance payments this summer. In order to receive the new credit, you may need to take some steps to ensure you get the funds. Families who are filing taxes and do not currently receive the Child Tax Credit must take action before October 15, 2021, otherwise you will have to wait to receive the credit when you file your taxes in 2022.  If your family does not earn enough to file taxes, and you want to get the child tax credit in monthly payments now, you must enroll online by November 15, 2021.

The CTC is a tax credit that taxpayers can get for each qualifying dependent child on their tax return. A tax credit directly reduces the amount of taxes you owe, giving you a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax liability. The CTC in 2021 is a fully refundable tax credit, meaning that eligible families can receive it, even if they owe no federal income tax. Before this year, the refundable portion of the CTC was limited to $1,400 per child. 

The American Rescue Plan has expanded the CTC for the 2021 tax year. These changes will only apply for the 2021 tax year. The CTC has been revised in the following ways: 

  • An increase to $3,600 per qualifying child under the age of 6.  
  • An increase to $3,000 per qualifying child between the ages of 6 and 17.  

Is My Family Eligible for the Credit?

Your family qualifies for the credit if:

  • The child is your son, daughter, grandchild, stepchild or adopted child; younger sibling, step-sibling, half-sibling, or their descendent; or a foster child placed with you by a government agency.
  • The child was under 17 at the end of 2020.
  • The child has a valid Social Security Number.
  • The child lived with you for more than half of 2021.
  • The child did not provide over half of their own support for 2021.

To Qualify 
Filers must have had a 2019 or 2020 adjusted gross income below the following levels to qualify for the full monthly payment: 

  • $75,000 for individual taxpayers 
  • $112,500 for heads of households
  • $150,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly and widows/widowers

What to Expect  

  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has started sending out letters to let families who it knows, based on tax returns, might be eligible to receive advanced monthly CTC payments beginning July 15.   
  • Eligibility is based on either a filers’ most recent tax return or information submitted to the IRS using the simplified sign-up tool.  
  • Families eligible for advance CTC payments will receive a second, personalized letter listing an estimate of their monthly payment.   
  • The advance CTC payments are worth up to $300 per month for each qualifying child under the age of six and up to $250 for each child between the ages of 6 and 17.  
  • The IRS will pay half of the total credit through the advanced monthly CTC payments and pay the other half of the credit when the taxpayer files their 2021 tax return.  
  • Taxpayers can verify their eligibility for the payments or opt-out of the advanced payment program by visiting the IRS Child Tax Credit Update Portal.  
  • For more information about the unenrollment process, including a schedule of deadlines for each monthly payment, visit the IRS FAQ page.

Eligibility is Determined from 2020 or 2019 Tax Returns   

Filers who have filed a return in either 2019 or 2020 will not need to do anything. The IRS will take the information from those tax returns to determine eligibility for the advanced CTC payments. The IRS will only use a 2019 return if a 2020 return has not been filed or is otherwise unavailable to use.  

What about Filers who don’t regularly file taxes?  

Filers who have not filed for 2019/2020 may register online with the IRS simplified sign-up tool. This tool will allow non-regular filers to provide the IRS with the basic information needed to determine if they qualify for the CTC.  

Who should unenroll?

Instead of receiving the advanced monthly payments, some families may prefer to wait until the end of the year to receive the entire credit as a refund when they file their 2021 tax return.

The unenroll feature may also be helpful to some families that no longer qualify for the Child Tax Credit or believes they will not qualify when they file their 2021 tax return. This could happen if, for example:

  • Their income in 2021 is too high for them to qualify for the credit
  • Someone else (an ex-spouse or another family member, for example) qualifies to claim their child or children as dependents in 2021
  • Their main home was outside of the United States for more than half of 2021

What About Immigrant Families?

You can apply for and receive a tax credit with NO negative effect on any immigration application you might file. Immigration does NOT ask about tax credits or consider them negatively in your immigration application process.

Is a Social Security Number Needed to be Eligible for the CTC?  

Parents are not required to have a social security number to be eligible for the CTC. However, parents must have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to claim the CTC for their eligible children.   

Do Children need to have a Social Security Number to Qualify for the CTC?  

Yes. The CTC is only available for children 17 years and younger with social security numbers.   

What about Dependent College Students?  

Dependent college children who are under the age of 24 at the end of the tax year, who are full-time students for at least five months of the year, and who are younger than the tax filer may be considered a qualifying child for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is a tax break that helps low to moderate-income taxpayers.

For more information, visit the IRS EITC page: https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/individuals/earned-income-tax-credit-eitc.   

Additionally, dependent college children may be claimed for a $500 non-refundable tax credit as an Other Dependent Child. Claiming an Other Dependent Child will not affect advance CTC payments but may affect a qualifying filer’s 2021 tax return.  

How to Receive CTC Payments?  

The IRS is calculating this payment based on the most recent of 2020 and 2019 returns. Potentially qualifying filers should file their tax return as soon as possible to receive the CTC.  Filers who have not filed for 2019/2020 may register online with the IRS simplified sign-up tool. Families who are not currently receiving the Child Tax Credit must take action before October 15, 2021, otherwise you will have to wait to receive the credit when you file your taxes in 2022. 

Advanced CTC Payment Options  

  • The IRS will be using information from tax filers’ most recent tax returns or from non-filers tools to send out advanced monthly CTC payments. Eligible families will receive the advanced payments by direct deposit or check.   
  • Direct deposit is available to tax filers who include their bank information and select it as an option.  
  • Filers can also elect to have advance CTCs mailed out.  

How to update direct deposit information

To update direct deposit information, families should use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to provide the IRS with their most recent bank account information to receive their monthly payments.

To change the bank account receiving the advanced payments, update the routing number, account number and indicate whether this is a savings or checking account. The advanced payments will start going to this updated account August 13.

It is important to note that the advanced payments can only be direct deposited into one account.

How to switch from paper check to direct deposit

The Child Tax Credit Update Portal will indicate whether families are enrolled to receive their advanced payments by direct deposit. If they are not enrolled to receive their advanced payments by direct deposit, they will receive a check each month.

To receive the advanced payments by direct deposit, they can use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to add their bank account information. The Update Portal will need their routing number, account number, and indicate if this is a savings or checking account.

The IRS urges any family receiving checks to consider switching to direct deposit. With direct deposit, families can access their money more quickly and eliminates the chance of a stolen, lost, or undelivered check.

Watch Out for Scams  

The IRS urges everyone to be on the lookout for scams relating the advanced CTC payments. The only way for eligible families to get the advanced CTC payments is to have filed a tax return with the IRS or registered online through the non-filers signup tool, which can only be done on the IRS.gov website. These are the only two ways to get the advanced CTC payments; any other option is a scam.  

People who receive emails, phone calls, or text messages related to advanced payments should be cautious. The IRS never sends electronic communications, which were not requested, to anyone asking them to open attachments or visit non-governmental websites.  

For more information on how to protect yourself from scams, visit the IRS Tax Scams page. This webpage provides information on how scammers might target you to obtain your personal information or money. 

We are still waiting on additional details from the IRS and will update our website with more information. For more information about the CTC, visit the IRS advanced CTC 2021 page at IRS.gov/childtaxcredit2021 or their FAQ page.