How to deal with a frightening IRS phone scam in Florida.
As tax time approaches, scammers are actively targeting our most vulnerable seniors in the Tampa Bay area with IRS threats and hoaxes. Each year, IRS scams manifest themselves in a variety of ways, including direct mail solicitations, email solicitations or harassing phone calls. As a Tampa Bay elder law attorney, I often receive frantic calls to my office regarding such scams, so I try to stay on top of them in order to warn my clients and blog readers.
One particular IRS phone scam in Florida involves scammers relentlessly calling seniors pretending to be agents and demanding immediate payment for an unpaid balance. They may also demand that the senior fork over personal information to “verify” whether or not the senior owes a bill to the government. The purpose is either to defraud the senior of money or get them to compromise their identity so that it can be stolen at a later date.
The scariest part is that many scammers will use public records to trick seniors into believing that the scammer is really “who they claim to be.” After all, seniors believe that if the caller on the other end of the line can tell them their address, birthday, and other personal information, surely they must be calling from the government or other trusted source. They are often unaware that by simply using the internet, scammers can get this information quite easily and use it against the victim.
It’s important for seniors in the Tampa area to be prepared for such scams, especially should an “IRS Agent” ever call their home. As a general rule of thumb, a REAL IRS representative will never:
- Demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.
- Demand payment without sending a statement first (the real IRS will always send mail before attempting to collect).
- Threaten to bring in local law enforcement to arrest you for not paying.
- Demand that you pay without answering your questions.
- Ask for your personal information over the phone such as your date of birth, mother’s maiden name, or social security number.
If you ever get a phone call and recognize the tactics above, or if your gut tells you something isn’t right, just hang up and report the incident to your local law enforcement authorities.
Additionally, if you are worried about your elderly loved one being vulnerable to these types of scams as they are losing the ability to manage their personal and financial affairs, contact our Tampa Bay elder attorneys at 813-438-8503 to schedule a consultation.