Anyone can fall victim to fraud, but seniors are particularly vulnerable. Seniors are often on a fixed income, so losing money at the hands of a scam artist can hit older Americans the hardest. As tax season is upon us, do not fall victim to tax scams and fake IRS communications.
Some common tax scams include IRS impersonation telephone cons, phishing schemes, and filing fraudulent returns. Remember, the IRS will never reach out to consumers via email, text messages, or social media channels to request payment or personal or financial information. These scams are designed to steal your money or identity. The IRS also warns consumers to be careful of scam emails designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or related organizations. Additionally, some thieves nowadays use Social Security numbers of unsuspecting people to file imitation tax returns with the goal of pocketing the tax refund.1
Below are some ways to protect yourself:1
- Never give your Social Security number or credit/debit card over the phone – even if the caller claims to be an official tax agent.
- Never pay a supposed tax bill over the phone or to anyone demanding a cash payment.
- The official IRS website is irs.gov and any legitimate IRS webpage will begin with irs.gov. Don’t be fooled by close variations (such as irsgov, irs.net, or similar).
- Do not succumb to threats, including being arrested by supposed tax agents.
- If you have been scammed, report the incident to the IRS immediately using the following link: https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml.
Don’t fall victim to these scams – protect your well-earned money. If you’re looking for a way to supplement your retirement funds, a reverse mortgage may be able to help. A Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), commonly known as a reverse mortgage, is a Federal Housing Administration insured loan. A HECM enables seniors to access a portion of their home’s equity to obtain tax free2 funds without having to make monthly mortgage payments.3
If you’d like to learn more about how a reverse mortgage works and whether you may be eligible, please use our Reverse Mortgage Calculator or call 800-218-1415.
1 Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts – irs.gov, 3/17/17, https://www.irs.gov/uac/tax-scams-consumer-alerts.
2 Consult your financial advisor and appropriate government agencies for any effect on taxes or government benefits.
3 You must live in the home as your primary residence, continue to pay required property taxes, homeowners insurance and maintain the home according to Federal Housing Administration requirements.