A new year, a new tax scam. Each tax season there are scammers lurking on the internet, over the phone, and sometimes even in-person. It is unfortunate, but if you have aging parents or loved ones it is important that you are aware of tax scams targeting the elderly.
Criminals are finding new and creative ways to scam your loved ones out of their money online, on the phone, in-person, and by mail. It’s especially important to be aware of this during tax season. You can help protect your loved ones from tax scams by knowing what the IRS will never do and which types of scams to look out for.
Common Tax Scams to Watch For
Two of the most common types of tax scams your parents may encounter are:
Phone Scams: Criminals may call your parents and impersonate an IRS agent claiming to need personal information such as a social security number, date-of-birth, etc. The fake caller may suggest that not disclosing this information will result in arrest or other charges.
Phishing Emails: Emails are an easy way for scammers to send phony messages requesting your parent provide personal information, banking information, or re-file their taxes. In many cases the email will look and feel like a real IRS request and the link will take you to a ‘look-a-like’ website.
These scams can often look like:
- Requesting fake tax payments – the IRS will never call for immediate payment especially through prepaid debit cards or other forms of money transfers.
- The Federal Student Tax – this is a common one that says the payment is overdue and the authorities will be called if it goes unpaid. There is no such law and the IRS would not do that.
- Verifying tax return information over the phone – this is how criminals get your personal information by asking for your private information.
- Promises of big refunds – phone calls or emails about tax refunds are scams hoping to reel you in with the idea of extra cash.
What the IRS Will Never Do
It is a sure bet that the IRS will never do the following:
- Call you directly and require payment over the phone, text message, email, or by social media. The IRS will mail you a letter directly.
- Prevent you from appealing or questioning the amount of taxes you may owe. The IRS will allow for appeals and payment plans to be set up depending on the situation.
- Expect or require you to use only one method of payment to pay your taxes (i.e. your checking account). The IRS will allow for multiple types of payment.
- Request your credit card, debit card, or your checking account number over the phone. The IRS has many other options to receive this information (i.e. online or via mail).
- Suggest the police will arrest you for not paying your taxes in full. The IRS will send explicit information to your home regarding penalties of not paying your taxes.
How to Protect Your Loved Ones from Tax Scams
To protect your loved ones, you should:
- Instruct them to never give financial or personal information by phone, email, text, or social media to an unsolicited message. Contact the IRS directly.
- Prevent potential robocalls by contacting the phone provider and have them block any robocall numbers.
- Remain skeptical if you receive IRS emails or phone calls. When in doubt, contact the IRS to confirm the request.
- Do not open attachments or click on links in emails sent from the IRS.
When it comes to tax scams, the best way to protect your loved ones is to remain vigilant. If you or a loved one does get caught in an IRS scam, contact the IRS and authorities immediately.