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Feb 19, 2024

Avoiding Tax Scams: A Guide for Seniors and Caregivers

Avoiding Tax Scams


As tax season ramps up, so do the schemes of fraudsters looking to take advantage of seniors during tax preparation.

Falling victim to tax scams can be financially and emotionally devastating for older adults.

The good news is that being aware and careful is the best way to protect ourselves.

This blog explains some of the most common tax scams targeting seniors and gives practical tips to avoid these scams.

Common Senior Tax Scam Types

Tax season, unfortunately, brings out scammers targeting seniors through deceitful schemes aimed at stealing money and personal information.

Being informed on common scam tactics can help seniors protect themselves.

Scam Mailings

One prevalent scam involves sending fake letters claiming an "unclaimed refund" is owed to the recipient.

These official-looking notices arrive through delivery service mail containing a letter with an IRS letterhead and contact details.

However, the phone numbers and addresses on the letters actually belong to the scammers, not the IRS.

Often, these scam mailings request personal information from recipients to process the "unclaimed refunds." Providing such information enables fraudsters to commit identity theft.

Charity Fraud

Another scam trend is charity fraud through soliciting donations for fake causes. They try to take advantage of seniors' generosity by falsely claiming that the donations will help those in need.

However, they simply pocket the money with no intent of assisting charitable services. They also provide false tax documentation claiming the donations are deductible.

This results in unsuspecting seniors being unable to claim legitimate tax deductions on their returns for the year.

Ghost Tax Preparers

Seniors often seek assistance filing tax returns from paid preparers. However, ghost preparers who refrain from signing returns should raise skepticism.

By not providing a signature, these preparers evade legal responsibilities for the returns they prepare.

Telephone Scams

IRS imposters pretend they are calling from the IRS and claim you owe back taxes.

These scammers threaten taxpayers, demanding immediate payment and stating they will face consequences like arrest if they do not pay right away.

These fake IRS calls are intended to trick taxpayers into revealing personal information or making payments to fraudulent accounts.

Read Also: Tax Preparation Tips for Older Adults

Avoiding Tax Scams

Tax scammers employ various tactics to deceive seniors, but with careful attention, seniors and caregivers can steer clear of these schemes.

Here is some advice to help protect against scams.

Verifying Contacts

Seniors should be careful if they get suspicious calls, emails, or letters about taxes.

Before giving any personal information or making payments, seniors should confirm directly with the IRS that the contact is legitimate.

Caregivers can remind seniors to get verification from the IRS, offer an outside perspective if something seems dubious, and assist in double-checking information while asking pertinent questions on their behalf.

Recognizing Phone/Email Scams

Threatening calls that pretend to be from the IRS are always scams. The IRS typically initiates contact through mail, not aggressive phone calls.

Seniors should promptly hang up if a call threatens them or demands immediate payment or personal details.

Caregivers should be vigilant for alarming calls and prevent seniors from making any payments in response. Report any attempted scams to the relevant authorities.

Giving Carefully to Charities

Before making donations, seniors should thoroughly research charities to ensure their contributions reach those in need rather than falling into the hands of scammers.

It's advisable to use credit cards or checks for donations instead of cash or money wires.

Caregivers should remind seniors to verify charities before donating and watch out for appeals pressuring for quick donations, as they often signal a scam.

Choosing Tax Preparers Carefully

While seeking assistance with tax filing can be beneficial for seniors, it's essential to avoid dishonest preparers seeking to exploit them.

Only use preparers who formally sign returns to assure accountability. Check credentials and reputations first.

Caregivers should vet any preparers seniors choose. Make sure paid preparers have good reputations.

You can also use this directory to help you or your senior loved one find a preparer in your area that is recognized by the IRS.

As tax season gets underway, it's crucial we empower and protect our senior loved ones against fraud.

Additionally, for those seeking premier home care in Lafayette, Youngsville, Broussard, and surrounding areas, we are here to help!

We provide home care services catering to the needs of older adults, such as arthritis care, diabetes care, in-home hospice care, and more. Contact us today to schedule a free care consultation!

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When you need in-home care services, look to Home Instead® to deliver the excellence and compassion you deserve. Learn more about the experienced in home care‚Äč we deliver.
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