Beware of Elder Scams
Last week, an elderly friend asked me to look at an email she had received from what appeared to be the IRS. The email informed her that she was entitled to an IRS refund. To receive the refund, she was instructed to complete an online request form.
So far so good. After all, who doesn’t like refunds…especially from the IRS. However, the questionnaire asked very specific and particular questions and raised a red flag to my alert friend. For instance, it asked for her pin number on her debit card. It also asked for the last 3 digits on the back of one of her credit cards.
Jason’s rule of thumb is “If you receive a request for information and you find yourself asking, as my friend did, “Why would they need that information?”, then it’s best to not provide that information.” Remember, you can always do research and provide information later if it is truly required.
Luckily, my friend was wise enough to stop before she completed the form. She was able to speak with her CPA and he confirmed that this was a scam. I reviewed the email myself and I admit that it had a very legitimate appearance. The email had the correct IRS website listed. It had a professional appearance, had my friend’s information correct, etc.
In this electronic age, scam artists have even more of an opportunity to take advantage of people. And it’s not just the elderly that are targeted. For instance, I often receive bogus emails from foreign millionaires with multinational companies who request that I send them a check to get their legal action initiated.
The internet is an amazing vehicle that can provide information and contact with family in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, it also has its risks. One click of a mouse can send a lot of information. So please be on guard as you use the internet and help raise the alertness of others in your community.
Of course, if you are unsure whether to move forward with an online request because of the concerns listed above, do not hesitate to contact an elder law attorney for assistance.