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Optima Tax Relief Announces New Scams Targeting Seniors

In a recent announcement, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has sounded an alarm about increasing scams targeting seniors. This alert coincides with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, underscoring the agency’s commitment to protecting elderly citizens from financial exploitation. Optima Tax Relief reviews the new scams targeting senior citizens. 

Rising Threats to Seniors 

Scammers often pose as IRS officials or other government representatives to deceive seniors, exploiting their trust and unfamiliarity with digital communication. These criminals use various tactics, including phone calls, emails, and text messages, to extract personal information and money. Seniors are particularly vulnerable as these scams often create a sense of urgency or fear, pushing them to act quickly without verification. 

Common Scam Tactics 

Here are some common tactics used by scammers, along with specific examples.  

Impersonation Scams 

Fraudsters frequently pretend to be IRS agents, threatening legal action or imprisonment to scare seniors into compliance. An example of this would be if a senior receives a phone call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent, threatening them with arrest if they do not immediately pay a supposed tax debt using gift cards or wire transfers. The caller may use aggressive language and demand immediate action.  

Phishing Scams 

Phishing involves scammers sending emails or text messages that appear legitimate, asking for personal or financial information. For example, an elderly person receives an email that looks like it’s from the IRS, claiming there is an issue with their tax return. The email includes a link that directs the user to a fake IRS website where they are prompted to enter their Social Security number and banking information, which is then stolen by the scammer. 

Spoofing Scams 

Spoofing is when scammers use technology to mimic the phone numbers of official agencies, making the scam calls appear more credible. For example, a senior gets a call from a number that appears to be from the IRS or another government agency. The caller ID is spoofed to look legitimate. The scammer on the other end asks for personal information, such as a Social Security number, to “verify” the senior’s identity. 

Lottery and Prize Scams 

In some scenarios, the scammers fool seniors into believing they’ve won a lottery or prize to steal money. For example, a senior receives a letter or email claiming they have won a large sum of money in a lottery or sweepstakes but must pay taxes or fees upfront to claim the prize. Once the payment is made, the supposed prize never arrives.  

IRS’s Protective Measures and Advice 

The IRS, in collaboration with other federal agencies, aims to educate and safeguard seniors. Here are their key recommendations. 

  1. Always verify the identity of the caller or sender before sharing any information. The IRS does not initiate contact via email, text messages, or social media to request personal or financial information.

  2. Report any suspicious activity to the IRS and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

  3. Stay informed about common scams and share this knowledge with friends and family to create a wider safety net.


The IRS’s alert on scams targeting seniors is a crucial reminder of the persistent threats faced by the elderly population. By staying vigilant, verifying suspicious communications, and reporting scams, seniors and their families can help prevent financial exploitation. Awareness and proactive measures are key to protecting our senior citizens from these malicious schemes.

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