Scammers will gladly take your money any time of the year, but the next few months are particularly active as they target seniors with a number of scams related to your taxes. Free tax preparation is offered to seniors through AARP at the Buffalo Grove Park District and Wheeling Township. (See our events page for more information) This is a safe way to get your taxes done by a reliable, trustworthy individual. This doesn’t mean you won’t be targeted by the scammers, however. If you’re ever contacted by someone claiming to work for the IRS it’s important to remember four key things:
- The IRS will not contact you via phone, text, email, or through social media. The IRS will mail you regarding any discrepancies in your tax returns. If you are contacted by any other means the easiest thing to do is contact the IRS directly at 1-800-829-4933. If you really do owe money they will gladly let you know. Please note your caller ID may indicate the call is coming from the IRS, but this is still a scam.
- The IRS will not demand immediate payment. The IRS offers a number of for individuals IRS payment plans that owe taxes. So if you ignore #1 above and are convinced the IRS is texting you, still don’t agree to pay anything until you contact them directly.
- The IRS won’t ask for prepaid cards. The IRS will not accept, much less demand, payment in the form of iTunes gift cards, Best Buy gift cards, Visa gift cards, Green Dot prepaid cards…you get the idea. The IRS will receive payment in many forms, but prepaid cards are not one of them.
- Neither the IRS nor the Buffalo Grove Police Department will come to get you. We have had people afraid they would get arrested because they received a call from scammers claiming to be the Buffalo Grove Police. The caller ID even said “Buffalo Grove Police Department”, but rest assured the police will not come to get you for any tax related debts. If your ever in doubt, hang up and call the police department at 847-459-2560.
The IRS also advises people not to fall for:
- Fictitious claims for refunds or rebates based on false statements of entitlement to tax credits.
- Unfamiliar for-profit tax services selling refund and credit schemes to the membership of local churches.
- Internet solicitations that direct individuals to toll-free numbers and then solicit social security numbers.
- Homemade flyers and brochures implying credits or refunds are available without proof of eligibility.
- Offers of free money with no documentation required.
- Promises of refunds for “Low Income – No Documents Tax Returns.”
- Claims for the expired Economic Recovery Credit Program or for economic stimulus payments.
- Unsolicited offers to prepare a return and split the refund.
- Unfamiliar return preparation firms soliciting business from cities outside of the normal business or commuting area.
While all of this may seem like common sense to you, scammers are very convincing. Many residents, particularly seniors, in Buffalo Grove fall prey to these scams far too often. When they realize they’ve been scammed they often are too embarrassed to report it to police or discuss it with loved ones. Please share this post on line, discuss it with your friends and be vigilant. Don’t assume that your family and friends know better than to be victimized by a scammer.