With tax deadline looming, scams are on the rise

Photo: WKRN

SPRING HILL, Tenn. (WKRN) – The deadline to file taxes is less than a week away. Every year, thousands of trusting people lose millions of dollars to those pretending to help, and unfortunately those victims are often our older loved ones.

As we get older, each day can be tough, especially when it is hard to remember the routine things.

“When we get a little older sometimes we need a little more help than we did when we were younger,” said Mike Phillips of Spring Hill.

His mother Katie suffers from Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, that makes her an easy target for a scammer.

“You don’t have to be a gullible person to fall victim to someone who knows what they are talking about.”

Katie’s mistake trusting a neighbor who said he wanted to help cost her a lot of money.

Mike Phillips and his mother (WKRN)

Sadly, that is a reminder that scammers are out there and even more are on the hunt during tax season.

According to the IRS, the number of scams has gone up over the years including a 400 percent increase in 2016 of email and virus scams.

That is where our older family members are most susceptible, according to Brad Cannon with Home Instead.

“Whether it be an IRS scam, or a sweepstakes scam, there are many ways that seniors are targeted.”

According to the National Cyber Support Alliance, the top five online scams include tech support, tax scams, viruses, debt collections and sweepstakes.

“Ninety-four percent of senior adults are on the Internet once a week,” said Cannon.

(Photo: WKRN)

What are the red flags?

Tell your loved ones to never answer a demand for money on the phone or online.

Also, you should explain what emails are safe to open and what pop-up windows to close right away.

“It usually doesn’t happen quickly. It usually happens slow and methodically,” Cannon said.

Home Instead partnered with another group to create a more interactive way to educate people.

Find more tips and a quiz at ProtectSeniorsOnline.com.