Opportunists continue to seek occasions to defraud elders out of money, and one of the many ways they continue to try to do it is through phone scams. In fact, according to the National Consumers League nearly 1/3 of phone fraud victims are over the age of 60. In recent years one of the newest scams involves a caller claiming to be from the IRS.
The scam works like this:
A caller impersonating an IRS employee will call and notify the resident that they owe a substantial amount of money in back taxes. They often then threaten the victim with an arrest warrant, or seizure of property if they do not pay the taxes immediately, via a pre-paid debit card, bringing a check to a particular location, wiring the money, or paying through PayPal. They often state from the start that the “debt” cannot be paid with a credit card.
This scam is not new, but it has defrauded victims out of more than $1,000,000 to date. The IRS and the Federal Trade Commission are both aware of the scam, and want you to keep the following in mind, if you get a call from anyone claiming to be from the IRS:
*The IRS will almost always contact you by mail, not by phone.
*The IRS will never threaten you with seizing your property or issuing an arrest warrant.
*The IRS will never demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will they insist that you pay using some specific, or peculiar method.
If a caller claiming to be from the IRS has scammed you, you should file a complaint with the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (800-366-4484) and with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. Include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in your complaint.
There are plenty of people who make a living at the expense of others, and you definitely don’t want to become a victim. If you would prefer to be removed from all phone sales lists, you can request to be put on the “Do Not Call” list, by registering at www.donotcall.gov.
Financial abuse of elders occurs in many forms. It is a civil and often a criminal offense. Christopher C. Walton is a San Diego based elder abuse attorney whose practice is dedicated to issues involving elder abuse & neglect. If you believe you or somebody you know has been a victim of financial or physical elder abuse or neglect in San Diego please call (866) 338-7079 for a free and confidential consultation.