By Donald P. Bristol, Paralegal and Louis N. Teti, Esquire-
As many of us are aware, the prevalence of scam artists targeting and taking advantage of elderly individuals is increasing at an alarming pace. These scam artists consistently fine-tune and perfect their skills and the statistics are distressing – according to the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration, between 2016-2018 there have been a reported 1.6 million calls from IRS impersonators, with victims just of this form of scam losing more than $47 million
[efn_note] AARP, IRS Impostor Scam, AARP.com, https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2019/irs.html [/efn_note]
. And the numbers are only on the rise. The scammers frequently target the elderly population, taking advantage of a generation that appreciates and values timeliness of bill payments, current tax filings, etc. There are few things less alarming and distressing than receiving a telephone call or e-mail with the message that you’re delinquent in bill or tax payments, and without immediate action, the authorities will be at your home to arrest you.
According to the IRS’s website:
- The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment over the phone.
- The IRS will never call or e-mail you to verify your identity by asking for personal or financial information.
- The IRS will never demand that you pay taxes without the ability to ask questions or appeal a bill.
- The IRS will never ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone or e-mail.
- The IRS WILL NEVER threaten to send local law enforcement officers to you have you arrested for not paying.
The IRS’s website also has information on contacts to reach out to if you or anyone you know has received such threatening or suspicious calls.
Very recent news has included disturbing reports of elderly individuals, so distraught after the realization that they had handed over a life’s savings to complete criminals, who went so far as the extreme of taking their own life. We can all do our part – while we are asked to check in on our elderly friends, family, and neighbors during times of extreme weather, let’s also take a moment to check in with them to make sure they know NOT to hand over their personal information and hard-earned assets to fraudsters. And if you suspect they have been victimized by these or any other scams, immediately report them to the appropriate authorities.
MacElree Harvey estate planning attorneys are committed to helping clients protect, preserve, and control their assets during their lives, even if they become disabled. Our estate lawyers also work with clients to help them implement a plan which will pass on their estates to loved ones in the manner they want – while minimizing the cost of Federal Estate, State Inheritance and Federal Estate Income taxes.
Lou N. Teti, chair of MacElree Harvey’s estate practice, represents individuals and businesses in a wide range of estate, business succession, and tax planning matters.
If you have questions about a tax or estate planning matter, call (610) 436-0100 or email [email protected] to arrange a meeting with a member of our estate planning team.