It’s that time of the year that many people dread—tax season. Unfortunately, these days there’s more to dread about tax season than just the tedious job of preparing taxes or possibly having to pay in. Now days, people also need to worry about scammers who try to steal their tax returns and personal information. Seniors are no exception. In fact, according to the FTC, seniors are a frequent target for identity theft because scammers see them as easier targets. That’s because older adults tend to be more trusting, have money saved, and have home equity. Being aware of common tax scams can make it possible for family caregivers to help their aging relatives avoid them. Below are five tax scams to be aware of.
#1 Fake Calls from IRS Representatives
The phone rings and the caller claims to be from the IRS. They even supply an IRS badge number. They know a lot about the older adult and the caller ID even looks like it comes from the IRS. Your aging relative is told they owe money to the IRS. The amount owed needs to be paid right away by using a wire transfer or a gift card. The caller threatens jail time, fines, or drivers’ license suspension.
#2 False Returns
In this scam, an amount of money shows up in the senior’s bank account. Then, someone who is supposedly from the IRS calls them saying there was an error. They request that the money be sent back to the IRS, but it really goes directly to the scammer. Later, the older adult tries to file their tax return and is told that they have already filed a return that year.
#3 Bogus Tax Preparation Websites
The older adult does an Internet search to prepare and file their taxes online. They end up on what they think is a legitimate site and enter all of their personal information. But, the site was fake and designed to look like a well-known tax preparation service. Their personal information is used to commit identity theft.
#4 Phishing Emails
The older adult receives an email that looks like it comes from the IRS. The email asks for personal information or says the recipient owes money.
#5 Emails from the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP)
Your aging relative gets an email that is supposedly from TAP asking for information pertaining to a tax refund. The email contains a link to click on. Although TAP is real, the email is not and is a phishing scheme. TAP is an advisory panel for the IRS, but they don’t have access to any personal or financial information for taxpayers, nor will they request it.
Family caregivers can help keep their older adult relatives safe from tax scams. One of the best ways to keep them safe is to talk to them about scams they may encounter. Caregivers should remind older adults that the IRS does not send emails or make phone calls to taxpayers. Communications from the IRS always come through the mail.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Williamston, MI, please contact the caring staff at Seniors Helping Seniors of Lansing. Call today: 517-332-9953.