IRS Warns of Scam Targeting Hard of Hearing Citizens
If you have hearing loss, you know that even the simplest things like picking up groceries, meeting friends for lunch, or understanding conversations over the phone can be a challenge. Hearing loss, if left untreated, could leave a lot of room for vulnerability of safety and security. Recently, the IRS has warned about several new scams aimed at those with hearing loss. Scammers try to take advantage of anyone they can, and those in the deaf and hard of hearing community who struggle to communicate might seem like an easy target.
Who are Scammers Targeting?
The true of the matter is that con artists will take every opportunity they can get to steal your money, personal information, or even your identity. Since people with hearing loss have more difficulty understanding conversations and can easily miss key details, they’ve been the victims of several new scams.
Fake IRS Agents
Con artists target hard of hearing individuals, pretending to be from the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS. Responsible for collecting taxes, the IRS rarely contacts you, and a call from the IRS would certainly be unusual. Scammers call to inform you of problems with your account, ask for banking information, or request your social security number. They might demand payment, get aggressive, or even threaten to involve the police.
The Video Relay Scam
The latest scam the IRS has been seeing recently preys on people’s trust in the video relay assistance program. Video relay is an amazing program designed to help deaf and hard of hearing people communicate over the phone. It is a video telecommunication service that connects the individual to a sign language interpreter who signs what the caller on the other end is speaking. All in real time, the video relay service gives the same power of connectivity to deaf and hard of hearing Americans that those with normal hearing enjoy.
Unfortunately, scammers have begun targeting hard of hearing Americans through the video relay service. The service will connect any call, and the interpreter’s job is to help you communicate, not protect you from fraud or theft. Calling over the video relay service may make the scammer seem legitimate, but don’t trust them just because they’re using technology you use to help you communicate.
The Real IRS: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe
Real IRS agents will never make aggressive calls, or threaten you with police involvement. Even getting a phone call from the IRS should tip you off that something isn’t quite right. The IRS always sends letters in the mail to explain taxes owed, and you’ll never get a phone call out of the blue to collect money or personal information. They have set procedures for people with tax issues, and none of them involve harassment or fear mongering.
If the person on the phone is asking for money on the spot, hang up! A real IRS agent won’t ask for your credit card number, or demand payment without giving you time to ask questions or appeal the amount owed.
Have You Received a Suspicious Call?
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, but they ask too many questions or try to threaten you, don’t disclose any personal information, and hang up the phone. If you are concerned about the safety of your account, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to confirm your tax payment status and ensure your account is secure.
It’s also a good idea to report the phone call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484, or file a complaint form with the FTC Complaint Assistant, so the caller can be stopped.
What to Do if You’ve Been a Victim of Fraud
You may have been the victim of identity theft or a scam if you receive a letter from the IRS about a suspicious claim on your account. Protect yourself by placing a fraud alert on your account, and submit an Identity Theft Affidavit if you think someone may have your social security number. You can find out more information about common scams by visiting the IRS website at irs.gov and typing ‘scams’ into the search box.
If you are hard of hearing or are struggling with hearing loss, it’s time to take action. Don’t let hearing loss hold you back, or put you at risk.
Credit: Atlanta Hearing Doctor