As tax season approaches, scammers using the Internal Revenue Service as a guise are targeting seniors in phishing scams, according to an AARP Scam Alert.
The first hint that an e-mail from the IRS is part of a scam is its appearance in an inbox — the IRS doesn’t send personal e-mail, the agency writes. Remind clients to forward such e-mail to email@example.com, the agency’s collection bin for fraudulent correspondence.
The scam alert points out some of the most common scams this tax season:
- Faxing forms. An e-mail sent by firstname.lastname@example.org and signed by a phony official named Laura Stevens, asks recipients to submit a W-4100B2 form and fax it to a given number. The number sometimes has a New York area code, or is from outside the United States, according to AARP.
- Recovery rebate credits. Some scams may ask for special forms to claim a remainder from their economic stimulus payment last year. However, if there is any balance from a credit your clients didn’t receive, all they need to do to claim it is file their tax returns.
- Senior stimulus payment. Retirees and other Social Security beneficiaries are eligible for a senior stimulus payment — $250 for individuals and $500 for couples — as part of the new stimulus plan. Some scams claim seniors can get a second, much larger payment by calling a telephone number and surrendering personal information.
- False Free File sites. Some Web sites mimic the IRS site, Free File. There are other free online tax return filing services, but they’re all accessible at www.irs.gov.
- Phony due date. Some scams will claim seniors are due a refund, even after April 15. Clients questioning their refund can call 800-829-1040, or 800-829-4059 for the hearing-impaired.