Want to strike fear in the heart of most any adult with three simple letters? Here’s what to say: IRS (the Internal Revenue Service)!
People don’t want to hear from the IRS. If they had someone call them claiming to be from the IRS, most would be hesitant to argue. That’s how tax scams work. Unfortunately, today’s aging adults are all too often the target of these types of fraudulent phone calls. The phone rings, someone picks up and a voice on the phone says, “I’m from the IRS, my badge number is ****, they recite your address, the last four numbers of your Social Security number, and more. Are you going to argue with them? If they demand your bank account number, are you going to hang up? Every year, these intimidating scenarios – tax scams – generate tragic results with today’s unsuspecting adults.
How would you feel if a member of your family, your mom, dad, grandparents, etc., fell prey to one of these unscrupulous criminals?
Identity Fraud, and Tax Scams
Frequently targeting older adults, there are two basic types of tax scams.
- Email or phone scams where a person pretends to be from the IRS. They may offer to send you a refund or they will ask for payment on a claim.
- A criminal will file a false tax return by impersonating you or someone else. If without your consent, someone uses your personal information (Social Security number, address, name, etc.) to commit fraud, this is identity fraud. To claim a refund, criminals will file a fraudulent tax return using your identity, in the case of tax fraud.
Can You Protect Yourself or Your Loved One?
There are methods through which you can attempt to protect your loved one, or yourself, against scammers. Here are a few suggestions:
- So they can secure your account, contact the IRS immediately if you feel that you are at risk of identity theft. Here is a link through which to do so: IRS Identity Protection.
- As early as possible, submit your paperwork to the IRS. This way, you beat those scammers to the punch! You’re less likely to have a bogus tax return filed in your name if you file your taxes with the IRS before scammers can.
- If you do all you can to protect your personal information, this is the best advice we can give. Always shred your sensitive documents whenever possible and remember that the following information should be protected at all costs: Social Security number, credit card information, account numbers, and other personal information or identifying information.
Email and Phone Scams
Here are some ways to attempt to avoid email and/or phone tax scams:
- Call the IRS on your own
- Don’t always believe what you see (bogus phone numbers and emails are not uncommon)
- If they say they have a refund for you, don’t believe it, and don’t give out your account numbers
- If to dispute the claim, they don’t offer you any options, they are fake
- If immediately, they demand payment, it is a scam
- Just because they have your personal information, don’t automatically assume they are truly from the IRS
- If they take a threatening or aggressive tone with you, threaten eviction, say they’ll call the police, and more, it’s a scam, as that’s not how the IRS works
Plain and simple, if you owe the IRS money, they won’t be calling you. You’ll receive a certified letter directly from them.
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