A Caution to Seniors: After Tax Day, Beware of Scams

The FBI says seniors are attractive targets to scammers because they are more likely to have money saved, own a home, and have good credit. (Chris Potter/Flickr)

PHOENIX – Today is the final day to file your federal income tax return for 2017. And tax season opens a lot of opportunities for identity theft crimes, especially among older adults. People over 50, who often have money saved and good credit history, are common targets for fraud, says Alex Juarez, the communications director for AARP Arizona.

Juarez says this time of year, it’s important to protect bank account information, Social Security numbers and other personal data.

“Scam artists, hackers, thieves are taking advantage of this opportunity of tax season, where people get rid of their information.”

He says if you’re one of those folks with old business or household records and tax documents you’re ready to throw out, shredding them is absolutely necessary to ensure any identifying information doesn’t get into the wrong hands. To help with that, AARP Arizona is hosting document shredding events in Phoenix, Prescott and Tucson throughout April and May.

Juarez says phone and email scams are common during tax season too, and they can be very convincing. If someone claims to be from the IRS or asks for personal information for any other reason, he warns to be cautious – and ready to just delete the email or hang up the phone.

“Always be on alert, if people are asking for money, for IDs, for Social Security numbers, do not provide that information via email; do not provide that information via telephone or text,” he explains.

AARP is launching a new podcast this month to explain common scams. Juarez says this is also a good time of year to revisit your online privacy settings. The personal information, and even the pictures you post publicly on social media, can be used by scammers looking to steal your identity.