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Protecting Older Americans Against the Top Scam: IRS Impersonations

No age group is immune to scams. It can happen to any age group, income level and gender. Scammers are no respecter to persons when it comes to getting your money. However, seniors should be protective of their finances, as they are more likely to have significant life savings and great credit. They also may be unsure of who to report fraud to, or don’t out of shame. This makes them a great target for scams. Unfortunately, the top scam among older Americans is IRS Impersonations.

Why IRS Impersonations?

  • Taxes and money are linked, so being able to access someone’s tax account gives them extensive amounts of highly personal information.
  • This information can be serviced into capital.

Telephone Scams

They may receive a phone call from the scammer, claiming to be from the IRS. They will give a fake name, badge number and even call from a Washington area code so they seem more legitimized.  This is called Caller-ID spoofing. They say they are following up on letters sent by mail and threaten arrest, home foreclosure or deportation for immigrants if they are not paid. Seniors should be aware that the IRS will never call to demand immediate payment, nor will they ask for credit card information over the phone. These scare tactics are working far too well, so education, not shaming, is needed to prevent victimization. If they receive a suspicious call, hang up and call the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.

Text Messages

Unfortunately, text messages seem to be more trusted than email.  Scams by text are called smishing. Some criminals may only have access to the internet through their smartphone, so they will use this to target other phones as well. They may even send a link to a fraudulent site to intake your private information like a social security number so they can steal your identity.

Here is an example of what a text might say:

“IRS NOTICE: Your Tax Return is overdue! Click here to prevent penalty by law.”

Email Phishing

This term means the scammers are fishing for information through email, conning people into thinking they are someone they are not. The emails look like they have the branding of the IRS and they are leading to a legitimate website. They might request the same information that is requested by phone, but might be more prone to believe the emails to be valid with the fake IRS branding.

Key Takeaways:

Inform your loved ones of these IRS facts:

  • The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment.
  • They will never threaten to immediately arrest.
  • You will never be told that the taxes must be paid without the opportunity to appeal the amount owed.
  • They will never ask for payment information over the phone.

Data has shown that increased knowledge on scams makes a difference, so share this information with your loved ones, creating a safe place of discussion and education!