IRS Warns of Tax Scam Targeting the Elderly


As we approach the April 17 Federal Tax Return Deadline, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) warns seniors of a scam that has frequented this year's filings.

According to an IRS press release, over the past few weeks, the organization has seen an inundation of fraudulent claims targeted at the elderly.

Many seniors are not required to submit tax information because they earn little or no income. Con artists have identified this as an opportunity to part the elderly from what little money they do make.

Some seniors are paying swindlers money to file returns for them in the hopes of claiming benefits that they don't actually qualify for. The con men then make off with a senior's money and any important personal information the elderly person has provided them with.

One popular scheme works by convincing seniors that they qualify for reimbursement through the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). The AOTC allows people paying for college to reduce their taxable income by as much as $2,500.

A key requirement of the AOTC is that a person be currently enrolled in an institute of higher education—a condition that most seniors do not meet. But, scammers lie to the elderly, telling them that they can collect benefits even if they went to school many years ago.

During tax season, the IRS tells caregivers and their elderly loved ones should look out for these red flags:

  • For-profit tax companies they don't recognize.
  • Anyone offering to file for you without asking for the proper documentation
  • Anyone offering to file for expired programs
  • Internet offers from unknown companies that ask you to call a number and then request personal information
  • The IRS has issued several consumer warnings about the fraudulent use of the IRS name or logo by scamsters trying to gain access to consumers' financial information in order to steal their identity and assets. Scamsters will use the regular mail, telephone, fax or email to set up their victims
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