Blog Post

Pennsylvania attorney general warns seniors of IRS scams

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro recently warned consumers about fraudulent calls and scams from individuals impersonating Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents. These criminals may claim that the older adult receiving the call needs to send money right away or risk arrest by the IRS. One elderly Pennsylvania resident received a call from someone who said they were from the IRS and informed her that she owed thousands of dollars in back taxes. The caller then claimed that IRS agents were waiting outside the victim’s home to arrest her if she did not pay her “tax debt” immediately. The elderly victim immediately withdrew more than $10,000 from her bank account and, as directed by the caller, went to several stores, purchased gift cards, and gave the gift card information over the phone to the scam artist. The victim described feeling scared upon receiving the call from “the IRS,” who demanded money and threatened that she could be arrested and sent to jail.

According to Shapiro, it’s critical that we all understand, and remind the older Pennsylvanians in our lives, that the IRS will never contact you asking for your information or demanding payment. The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection offers the following tips to help consumers avoid being scammed:

  • The IRS does not use threatening or aggressive calls. A scammer may threaten to involve the police, an immigration officer, or other law enforcement if you do not pay promptly.
  • The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text, or social media.
  • Do not trust the number you see on your caller ID, even if it appears to be coming from the IRS. Scam artists increasingly use a technique known as “spoofing” to trick the caller ID into thinking the call is originating from a certain phone number.
  • Do not give out personal information over the phone, even if the caller claims to be from the IRS or your bank.
  • The IRS does not require taxpayers to use a specific method of payment, such as a pre-paid debit card, money order, wire transfer, gift cards, or cash.
  • To reduce the risk of being victimized by tax scams or tax identity theft, taxpayers are advised to submit tax returns as early in the tax season as possible.
  • Be cautions of sharing information. Don’t give out personal information unless you know who is asking for it and why. Don’t ever be shy or feel badly about refusing to provide such information. Dispose of sensitive information safely by shredding it with a micro-cut shredder.

Pennsylvanians who feel they may have been victimized by the IRS scam or other scams are encouraged to file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling 1-800-441-2555 or emailing scams@attorneygeneral.gov.