Tax season seems to be scammers' favorite time of year, if the
recently released IRS list of its "Dirty Dozen" tax scams is any
indication. Perusing this announcement should be required reading
for anyone, but particularly for baby boomers. Why? Because,
according to the Federal Trade Commission, more of these
fraudsters target seniors aged 65 and older - and are beginning
to aim their scams increasingly toward boomers, as well.
Source: Flickr / Images of Money.
For baby boomers charged with keeping an eye on their parents'
affairs as well as their own, educating themselves about these
rip-off artists is doubly important.
Here is a sampling of some of the more egregious cons making
the circuit these days, along with some tips to avoid being
This is a biggie, and has been getting oodles of press due to the
hacking of credit and debit cards at big retailers like
. While this issue doesn't affect only older people, elders may
not know about the issue, or be aware of how to protect
The IRS has a special website page regarding identity theft,
which gives helpful protection advice. If you or your parents
might have been victimized, you can prevent scammers from using
your information to file a tax return in your name. Protect your
tax rebate by printing the "Identity Theft Affidavit" Form 14039,
filing it out, and sending it to the IRS.
Often targeting low-income filers and the elderly, fraudsters use
various tricks to convince victims that they are the IRS in order
to obtain social security numbers and other personal information.
Some of these cons are extremely well-orchestrated, and use
several people calling in sequence to bolster the claim that they
are genuine IRS representatives.
Others pose as charitable entities, particularly in the days
and weeks following some type of disaster. Often, these
charlatans use names that closely resemble those of reputable
organizations, and even set up phony websites to dupe victims. In
addition to stealing your money, these persons may also request
personal information from you, which may result in identity
Tax preparer fraud
Another ruse involves tax return preparer fraud, especially
prevalent this time of year. These swindlers impersonate tax
professionals, and often advertise heavily in order to scoop up
as many victims as possible. Often, these imposters will tell
prospective "customers" that they have a refund due, when they do
not. When the scammers procure the fraudulent refund, they keep
it for themselves. In some cases, victims have lost Social
Security and other benefits because of this type of fraud.
Others use tax preparation as a ploy to obtain personal
identification to use in identity theft schemes. The IRS has a
fact sheet that helps individuals safely choose a bona-fide tax
professional, as well as other tip sheets and advice on the
subject of tax fraud.
Keeping abreast of the latest scams can help you to keep your
entire family safe from schemers looking to take advantage of the
unaware. The U.S. government is an excellent resource in this
regard, and is willing to educate all citizens about these issues
- knowing full well, no doubt, that educated consumers are a
scammer's worst nightmare.
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