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Top Story: Tax scams preying on senior citizens - Warn your loved ones!

Top Story: Tax scams preying on senior citizens - Warn your loved ones!
© Lisa F. Young | Dreamstime.com

It's tax season, which means your stress level could be higher than normal. Keeping up with changes to the U.S. tax code could add to your stress.

Unfortunately, these changes aren't the only things that we need to worry about. This time of year also brings out an abundance of scammers.

Seniors especially need to be wary of tax scams. The National Council on Aging said that those 65 and older are at the most risk of falling victim to a financial scam. One reason for this is seniors typically have more expendable money than other age groups.

Even though seniors are targeted at a higher rate, everyone needs to be on the lookout for tax scams.

Fake IRS agent phone scam

The most common tax scam for years has been conducted over the telephone. A victim will receive a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS. The fake IRS agent acts very aggressive and tells the victim they owe past taxes and fees that are due immediately.

Many times the victim is told an arrest warrant is going to be issued if they don't pay ASAP. They are told to send money via wire transfer or prepaid debit card.

The IRS has compiled a list of things to watch out for that will tip off the call is a scam. Here are five things the IRS will never do:

  1. Call to demand immediate payment, nor will they call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  3. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you receive a call claiming to be from the IRS and hear any of the things on this list, here's what you need to do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
  • If you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
  • You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant: choose "Other" and then "Impostor Scams." If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.

Also, the IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type "scam" in the search box.

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