A new and fast moving telephone scam is targeting taxpayers across the country. The Fraud Watch Network sent out a press release detailing how thousands of victims have already lost more than $1million. Please caution your aging parents and others as well. Older adults are more likely to be victims of these demands and can be fooled into giving money.
Fake IRS agents call taxpayers, claim they owe taxes, and pressure them with demands for payment using a prepaid debit card or a wire transfer. They threaten their targets with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license, said J. Russell George, Treasury inspector general for tax administration.
The fake agents make their caller ID look like the call is coming from the IRS. In some cases, even more frightening, fake agents know the last four digits of Social Security numbers. They go so far as to follow up their targets with official-looking emails.
Imagine your aging parent getting one of these calls. They might be intimidated and want to comply. You, as the adult child with more of a fraud antenna might wonder why a supposed IRS agent would make a phone call, as the IRS always communicates with a taxpayer via mail. Your aging loved one might not think of that. When a second call comes in, once again with caller ID faked to look like the police department or the Department of Motor Vehicles, it looks even more real.
The IRS never demands wire transfers or debit card payments nor do they use license suspension or deportation as a threat. You can call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 if there is any doubt. But not everyone knows this, particularly the 20,000 or so people who have been tricked so far with this scheme.
So, keep your elderly loved ones safe. Tell them about this latest scam and follow up with questions as to whether they have gotten any calls like the ones described here, from anyone posing as an IRS agent. These scams escalate around tax time.
In consulting with families who have elderly loved ones as Mikol and I do here at AgingParents.com, we often find that adult children want to believe that their parents are still competent and that such a thing could never happen to them because their parents are intelligent, or well educated, or they had work experience in finance, etc. But these clever scum with the fake IRS calls can probably fool even a smart, well educated person because the scheme gets past “filters” like caller ID and knowing the last digits of a person’s Social Security number. The situation is even worse if Mom or Dad is elderly and has a few memory issues. This is too scary to ignore.
Not only are Mikol and I going to warn Mikol’s 91 year old mother, Alice, about this, but we’re going to ask her to tell all her friends at the seniors’ community where she lives. We’ll be visiting her this week, so it will be in person. We hope you’ll forward this tip on to your loved ones too.