Tax season is near.  This gives scammers the perfect timing to take advantage of fresh victims. These opportunists are always looking for options to scam money out of anyone. Unfortunately, seniors tend to have the highest risk of falling into their traps; they simply don’t see the deception. The National Consumers League estimates that nearly 30% of phone fraud victims are over age 60.

Watch Out for the IRS Phone Scam

One of the latest fraud schemes is a caller who is impersonating an IRS employee. The victim receives a phone call informing them that they owe a large sum of money for back taxes. Usually, callers threaten a property seizure or arrest warrant if immediate payment is not received.

The scammer convinces the victim to provide the payment immediately. Instructions may be to use a money wire, PayPal payment, pre-paid debit card, or check payment. Once that payment is made, it is difficult, if not impossible, to get the money back. So, it is critical to keep your elderly family members informed in advance about the scam.

IRS Phone Scam Red Flags

If you understand how the scam works, it is easy to identify the red flags. Here are three things to look out for that might indicate someone is targeting you with an IRS scam:

  1. Contact by Phone: The IRS contacts taxpayers by mail. If you receive a phone call claiming to be from the IRS, it is likely a scammer.
  2. Threats: When the caller is threatening you with an arrest warrant or property seizure, you can assume that you are being scammed. The IRS won’t make these threats when communicating about legitimate tax issues.
  3. Payment Requirements: Taxpayers have options for payments. The IRS will never demand payment in a certain manner. When payment is being requested over the phone, hang up.

Do you suspect that someone is targeting you or a family member with an IRS phone scam? Then you should report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission at and the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (800-366-4484). On the report, be sure to include the phrase “IRS Telephone Scam.” For more information about reporting scams or abuse, contact us any time. Email or call 858-480-7551. Senior Safe and Sound.

This information is intended to inform the public at large about this important issue. It is not intended to serve as legal advice.