Scam artists use tax season to prey on Floridians, and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam urges residents to be wary of tax-related scams specifically targeting seniors. Some prevalent scams include fraudsters posing as IRS representatives requesting personal information over the phone and scammers offering to file consumers’ taxes for a fee. Senior citizens should be particularly wary as they are often vulnerable to these types of scams.
Consumers should be cautious of individuals posing as IRS representatives claiming they can rectify payment discrepancies over the phone once provided with personal financial information, such as Social Security numbers and banking information. Scammers can then use this information to falsify claim refunds or gain access to personal accounts.
In another popular scheme, scammers offer to file consumers’ taxes for a fee and promise to help claim deductions that were supposedly overlooked in the past. Individuals commonly try to convince seniors that they falsely qualify for lucrative deductions, such as reimbursements for education.
Seniors can help protect themselves from scams by keeping the following in mind:
- The IRS contacts taxpayers by mail in most cases and will never ask for a credit card, prepaid debit card, money order or wire transfer immediately over the phone.
- The IRS will never threaten to involve local law enforcement to issue an arrest or suspend a license.
- Never give out personal information over the phone, such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers or credit/debit card numbers without verifying the source. To ensure the source is legitimate, hang up and call the entity using its official number.
- Floridians who are unsure about their tax situation can reach the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, protection and information. The call center is staffed with trained analysts who can respond to questions about programs and regulations under the department’s purview, provide information on a wide variety of topics or direct callers to the appropriate government agency.
For more information, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.