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IRS warns of scams targeting seniors in Kansas

tax authorities

TOPEKA, Kan. – As part of ongoing efforts to protect the senior living community, the Internal Revenue Service today issued an alert about the growing threat of impersonation scams.

This scam targets older adults in Kansas and elsewhere in the country by posing as government officials in order to steal sensitive personal information and money. By posing as representatives of agencies such as the IRS or other government agencies, these fraudsters use fear and deception to exploit their victims.

“Scammers often target seniors and attempt to steal personal information through phone calls, emails or text messages by posing as members of the IRS or other agencies or companies,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “Preventing these types of scams requires help from many different places. By working with other federal agencies and others in the tax community, we can reach more seniors and other taxpayers to help protect them from these terrible scams.”

This is part of a wider effort taking place this week in the lead up to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on Saturday 15 June. Observed since June 15, 2006, WEAAD aims to better understand the neglect and abuse suffered by millions of older adults, highlighting contributing cultural, social, economic and demographic factors.

The IRS is also involved in long-term efforts to protect against scams and other related schemes, including identity theft. This has been an ongoing focus of the Security Summit partnership between the IRS, state tax authorities and national tax professionals since 2015.

Understanding the threats

The IRS has identified a concerning trend where fraudulent actors are increasingly targeting unsuspecting individuals, especially seniors, by posing as IRS agents. Victims are pressured to make immediate payments through unorthodox methods, such as gift cards or bank transfers, under the pretense of settling fictitious tax debts or securing false refunds.

These scammers use sophisticated techniques to create a layer of credibility, including manipulating caller ID to appear legitimate. Here are just a few examples of their schedules:

  1. Imitation of known entities: Fraudsters often pose as representatives of government agencies – including the IRS, Social Security Administration and Medicare – others in the tax industry or well-known corporations and charities. By spoofing caller IDs, scammers can trick victims into believing they are receiving legitimate communications.
  2. Claims of issues or awards: Scammers often invent urgent scenarios, such as outstanding debts or promises of significant prize winnings. Victims may be falsely informed that they owe money to the IRS, owe tax refunds, need to verify accounts, or pay fees to claim non-existent lottery winnings.
  3. Press for immediate action: These deceptive actors create a sense of urgency and demand that victims take immediate action without allowing time for reflection. Common tactics include threatening arrest, deportation, license suspension, or computer viruses to force quick compliance.
  4. Specified payment methods: To complicate traceability, scammers insist on unconventional payment methods, including cryptocurrency, wire transfers, payment apps, or gift cards, and often demand that their victims provide sensitive information such as gift card numbers.

Precautions and reporting for scams

If a person receives an unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, but he or she has not been notified by email of any problems with their IRS account, he or she should hang up immediately. The call is probably from a scammer.

Do not return calls using the number provided by the caller or the number on their caller ID. If taxpayers are unsure about the legitimacy of IRS communications, they can contact IRS Customer Service for verification at 800-829-1040, or for the hearing impaired, TTY/TDD 800-829-4059.

To view details about an individual’s tax account, they can set up or check their individual online IRS account at IRS.gov.

Electronic scams are also on the rise, with scammers sending malicious emails and text messages posing as IRS representatives to steal personal information. The IRS reminds taxpayers that this is not the case initiate contact via email, text message or social media about tax assessments or refunds.

Report the call or electronic scam by visiting the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Hotline page and using an IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting form or by calling 800-366-4484. Forms to report various types of fraud are available on the Hotline page of the Internal Revenue Service’s Inspector General website. Taxpayers can click on the appropriate option under “IRS Scams and Fraud” and follow the instructions.

Important points to remember:

Individuals should understand how and when the IRS contacts taxpayers to help them verify whether the communication they receive is actually from an IRS employee.

Most IRS communications are initiated via regular mail, delivered by the United States Postal Service. However, in certain situations, the IRS may make phone calls or visit homes or businesses. These situations include a delinquent tax assessment, an unfiled tax return or a missing payroll tax return.

In addition, an IRS employee may assess assets or inspect a company as part of a collection investigation, audit, or ongoing criminal investigation.

Remember the following:

  1. The IRS will never demand immediate payment via prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or wire transfers. When taxes are due, the IRS usually sends an invoice by mail first.
  2. The IRS will never threaten to involve local police or other law enforcement agencies.
  3. The IRS will never demand payment without providing opportunities to dispute or appeal the amount owed.
  4. The IRS will never ask for credit, debit or gift card numbers over the phone.

By staying vigilant and informed about these scams, taxpayers can be protected from financial loss and identity theft. The IRS and cooperating federal agencies urge everyone to exercise caution, especially when it comes to unsolicited communications about taxes.

In March 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice introduced the National Elder Fraud Hotline to address fraud against older Americans and support affected individuals. If an individual has been a victim of elder fraud, he or she can contact the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).

The hotline is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, and services are available in English, Spanish and other languages.

More information

  1. Tax fraud and consumer alerts
  2. Report phishing and online scams
  3. The IRS Dirty Dozen: Annual List of Scams Involving Taxpayers
  4. Federal Trade Commission – How to Avoid Government Scams
  5. Partnership at the Security Summit