Scammers tend to target elderly people with all kinds of schemes, taking advantage of their isolation, ease of trust, higher savings, and lack of tech savvy, among other things.
The IRS has released an alert for seniors to watch out for phone scams. If you have grandparents or aging parents, you may want to let them know.
Here’s the alert from the IRS:
…the IRS reminds seniors to remain alert to aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents. The callers claim to be IRS employees, but are not. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling…If the phone isn’t answered, the phone scammers often leave an “urgent” call-back request.
Types of scam calls include:
-Tech support scams (as many as several times a day)
-Charity requests (some more dubious than others)
-IRS/Bank/FBI/Police scams (more tax scams during tax season)
Scammers will impersonate institutions of authority.
These types of institutions almost never call. If they do, simply ask for their name and their department, and inform them you will call them right back. If they politely say they understand and give you their information, there is a good chance this is a legitimate call. (Keep in mind that it is extraordinarily rare for the FBI, banks, IRS, or police to initiate a call.)
Use the Internet to double-check the number to call back. The scammers may try to be helpful and provide you with theirs, but a quick Google search of their phone number can tell you where they’re calling from (and if that matches with where their company headquarters is located).
If the person on the other end of the line gets angry or starts threatening you, guess what? They’re a scammer. Remember, they’re trying to instill in you a sense of urgency in order to override your common sense.
–Never allow anyone remote access to your computer.
-Is there a pitch for a product/service/subscription? It’s probably a scam.
-Is there a sense of urgency? IRS + “you will go to jail!” = scam!
-Caller ID is bunk. Don’t trust it.
-No legitimate institutions will want Apple iTunes cards or any other gift card as a payment form.
The scammers might also claim you have a refund in the works, then ask for personal, identifiable information. If you get a phone call, text or email you suspect is a scam, call the IRS directly at 1.800.829.1040 to see if you actually owe anything (the IRS will never ask you for credit card info over the phone, though). If it is indeed a scam, you can report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
Seniorliving.org has written a much more detailed & illustrated article about the common elderly scams, have a look if you have the time 🙂