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As Tax Returns Come Back, Scam Season Heats Up

Experts in fraud prevention say you should never give your personal information over the phone to someone you don't know. (Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos/Flickr)
Experts in fraud prevention say you should never give your personal information over the phone to someone you don't know. (Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos/Flickr)
May 1, 2017

BOISE, Idaho – Tax Day has come and gone, which means people are receiving their tax refunds.

It also means it's high season for scams.

An IRS scam has been sweeping the nation recently, with fraudsters calling victims and demanding that they owe the tax agency money.

Cheryl Tussey, who has worked with AARP Idaho on fraud prevention and education for two decades, says seniors are especially vulnerable to these scams. She shares her number one rule when it comes to tax scams.

"The IRS will never call you,” she emphasizes. “It's so important that people understand that. They do not call. They will contact you by mail first if there's a problem. They do not call you. And if folks can remember that, they can just hang up."

Tussey says scams are especially prevalent from January through the end of May. She stresses that people should never give out personal information over the phone and should shred any documents with sensitive information on them rather than simply throwing them away.

Tussey has heard many heart-wrenching stories of seniors, often on fixed incomes, who have been defrauded out of thousands of dollars.

Identity theft is common throughout the year. So are other scams, such as the so-called "grandparent scam," where a thief calls and pretends a person's grandchild is in jail and in need of bail money.

Tussey says these scams persist in new iterations and may never go away.

"I don't believe we'll ever be able to stop the initiation of old and new scams and frauds, but we can decrease the number of victims via these education opportunities," she states.

AARP Idaho holds events free to the public called Scam Jams across the state where speakers, such as Tussey and state officials, offer tips on how to avoid scams and frauds.

The next Scam Jam is at the College of Idaho in Caldwell on May 25.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID