It’s tax season, which means that elderly people here in Florida and across the United States are being targeted by IRS Scammers. Essentially, unscrupulous people are posing as IRS agents and taking advantage of senior’s fears of the government or owing any kind of debt.
One of the most prominent ways that seniors are being victimized by IRS scammers is through cold calls over the phone. In most cases, an individual will call claiming to be an IRS agent who has an urgent business matter with the senior. Sometimes they will ask for personal information over the phone in order to steal the senior’s identity. But most of the time, they will claim to be an agent and ask for payment of funds to the IRS immediately over the phone. The scammer often possesses some personal information about the senior they are calling, and they use this information to try to convince the senior that the call is legitimate. The caller may even threaten criminal charges unless immediate payment is made.
One of the most important things you can do to protect your older loved ones from such scams is talk to them about the kind of technology that exists today, which allows pretty much any internet user to find out some level of personal information about a senior and his or her family. They may simply not be aware that information such as a person’s address, date of birth, or other information can be found online. They should also keep an eye out for the following warning signs, which may indicate that a scam is taking place:
- The caller demands immediate payment for an overdue, surprise “tax bill.” In real life, the IRS will not call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.
- The caller demands that you pay taxes without giving you the chance to question or appeal the amount.
- The caller asks you to use a certain payment method for your taxes such as a prepaid debit card.
- The caller asks for any personal information, including credit card information, over the phone.
- The caller threatens to bring in law enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.
Despite their convincing pitch, if your loved one receives a suspicious call from an “IRS Agent,” the best defense is to hang up the phone. Tell your loved one that if they are really concerned about an IRS debt, they can call the IRS back directly and they will be able to confirm with someone who is really from the agency whether or not money is owed.
If you suspect that your elderly loved one is falling prey to other scams outside of those making the rounds this tax season, it may be time to contact an elder lawyer to discuss steps that can be taken to help the senior safeguard his or her savings and possibly bring someone else on board (like an adult child) to manage their financial affairs. If you need help getting started, we invite you to contact Brandon elder law firm at (813) 438-8503 to schedule a consultation.