News and EventsWednesday, January 30, 2013
Tax time a good time to be on the lookout for financial scams
Tax time is a good time of year to remember that older adults are high profile targets for financial exploitation and abuse. Research shows that as many as five million older adults are victims of elder abuse each year. Financial exploitation, also known as financial abuse, is believed to cost seniors an estimated $3 billion annually. It is a threat to the health, safety, dignity and independence of vulnerable older adults, but you can help prevent it from happening.
Tax-related scams and resources
This time of year, fliers, yard signs, emails and other advertisements offering tax preparation assistance and promising bigger, faster refunds are popping up everywhere. When you alone are ultimately responsible for the information on your tax returns, how do you separate the professionals from the scammers?
Regarding your tax refund, the following scenarios should be a warning sign:
Even though they may not be required to file an income tax return, seniors are a prime target for tax scammers. They are led to believe they should file a return to receive social security rebates for excess withholding or that they are eligible for certain tax credits that could get them a refund.
The IRS`s Criminal Investigation Unit offers the following tips for avoiding tax preparation scams:
Free tax-prep assistance
Many people qualify for free help in preparing their income tax return. Visit Council on Aging`s Help4Seniors Resource Directory for information.
Reporting Tax Frauds and Scams
If you think you are a victim of a tax scam, report it right away!
Local Police Department: If you think you`ve lost money or your identity to a funeral arrangement scam, immediately contact your local police department to file a report.
Cincinnati office of the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit: (513) 263-3335
Resources for preventing financial exploitation
Last fall, the National Center on Elder Abuse and the Eldercare Locator (a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging that is administered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging) partnered to produce a consumer guide, Protect Your Pocketbook: Tips to Avoid Financial Exploitation, to help older adults, caregivers and their families discuss and get informed about strategies to prevent financial exploitation.
The guide includes tips for helping families identify warning signs or prevent of financial exploitation altogether, including:
Families that are concerned about financial exploitation should report the issue to state agencies that deal with protecting the safety and well-being of older adults. In Ohio, scams can be reported to the Attorney General`s office.