Tax Tip Tuesday: Scammers Target Older Americans

March 28, 2017

 

The IRS says older individuals need to remain alert to aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents. The callers claim to be IRS employees, but they are not.

 

These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.

 

The victims are told they owe money to the IRS and must pay it promptly through a preloaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are often threatened with arrest. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

 

Alternatively, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn’t answered, the phone scammers often leave an “urgent” call-back request.

 

“The IRS warns seniors about these aggressive phone calls that can be frightening and intimidating. The IRS doesn't do business like that," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We urge seniors to safeguard their personal information at all times. Don't let the convincing tone of these scam calls lead you to provide personal or credit card information, potentially losing hundreds or thousands of dollars. Just hang up and avoid becoming a victim to these criminals‎."

 

Here’s how you can spot a scammer. These are four things the scammers often do, but the IRS never does. Any one of these things is a telltale sign of a scam.

  1. Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury and checks should never be made payable to third parties.

  2. Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement agency to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.

  3. Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.

  4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

We strongly encourage you to share this information with your parents and grandparents to make sure they don’t become victims of these scams.

 

Disclaimer: The items included in the Tax Tip Tuesday Video Blog are informational only and are not meant as tax advice. Consult with your tax advisor to determine how any item applies to your situation. IRS Circular 230 disclosure: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advise contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein

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