IRS Impersonation Scam Targets Seniors

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road-sign-464653_1280.jpgAs many aging parents and other seniors already know, elderly citizens are a favorite target of unscrupulous scammers. These immoral people think nothing of trying to bilk aging parents and others out of their hard-earned (and much-needed) savings. A Senate Committee’s recent report highlights some of those scams.

Committee on Aging

The US Special Senate Committee on Aging makes consumer protection and fraud protection a major focus of its work. The Committee just released the latest edition of “Fighting Fraud,” its report on the most common scams targeting senior citizens.

According to the report, in 2016 the Committee received 2,282 reports of fraudulent activity directed at aging parents and other seniors. Of that number, an astounding 1,680 reports concerned an IRS impersonation scam, making it far and away the most prevalent form of fraudulent activity conveyed to the Committee.

The Scam

The scam can come in several different forms, but the basic way it works is this:

A person calls an individual and pretends that they work for the IRS. They tell the individual that they owe the IRS money — often a substantial amount — and that they must pay it right away. If they don’t pay it immediately, then the IRS will take action, such as foreclosing on their home, arresting them, seizing their assets, etc.  Often the caller will insist on getting payment by way of a credit card and will obtain the individual’s credit card information, enabling the caller to then make further fraudulent charges on the card.

Sometimes the scammers continue to make calls even after the fraudulent “debt” has been paid, claiming that further irregularities have been discovered.

How to Detect This Scam

The IRS has released the following information to help aging parents and others identify a potential IRS scam call:

The IRS will NOT call a person about unpaid taxes without FIRST having mailed information about the unpaid taxes. And they will never call to demand immediate payment. They also will not demand payment without first letting the citizen question or appeal the charge.

The IRS NEVER asks for credit or debit card information to be handed over on the phone.

The IRS will NEVER threaten to have police or other enforcement arrest someone if the charge is not paid.

The IRS does not demand that a person MUST use a particular form of payment (such as a prepaid debit card).

Aging parents and other seniors who receive a suspicious call that seems potentially fraudulent (whether part of an IRS impersonation scam or any other kind of scam) should hang up and call the Committee’s Fraud Hotline to report it. That number is 855-303-9470.

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