BBB warns against tax season scams

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It is tax season, and we have new warnings for Mid-South residents who are being targeted by scammers.

"There are a lot of clever thieves out there," Rodney Fauser said.

That's what Fauser thought when he got a supposed email from his friend. The email said his friend was in Germany and his car had been stolen. He needed $2,500 dollars.

Fauser immediately pegged the request as fake, but sadly some people wouldn't have.

"How did they get the relationship between me--to send me the email--and Mike? How did they know he was gone? And how did they know I was a friend of his?" Fauser asked.

"Most of our seniors grew up in a trusting generation, and these cyber criminals find that seniors are very trusting," said Ken Cope, president of Home Instead Senior Care.

Ken Cope said that good-hearted nature is what makes seniors more vulnerable to scams. Cope said scammers also know there may be cash to grab at the other end of that phone call or email.

"Seniors often times have built up a lifetime's worth of savings, so they actually have assets to go after," Cope said.

New information from the Better Business Bureau shows online purchasing scams where you receive a free trial offer and investment scams top their riskiest list of scams in 2017.

The investment scam targets older Americans.

Tax season brings a resurgence of the IRS scam as well, where the scammer poses as an IRS representative looking for back taxes. The BBB said often the person sounds professional, uses a common last name like Jones or Smith, gives an IRS badge number, and may even threaten the senior by telling them they could go to jail if they don't cooperate.

Nancy Crawford with the BBB of the Mid-South said while many seniors may not have to file taxes, they could be fooled into thinking they do. And that's where vigilance comes in.

"Talk to the seniors in your family, ask them about their taxes, have they filed them yet, do they need help," Crawford said.

The BBB said the IRS will never call you without having first tried to contact you through U.S. mail.

If there is some good news, the BBB's recent report shows the number of tax scams went down in 2017 because of an arrest in India in 2016 of the ringleader of call centers behind those types of scams.

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