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04/09/2018

​Wolf Administration Holds Community Forum to Help Older Pennsylvanians Avoid Being Scammed


Scranton, Pa. — Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne and Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell today traveled to the Scranton Jewish Community Center to lead a community discussion on steps the Wolf Administration has taken to protect older Pennsylvanians from scams and financial exploitation. The town-hall style event also afforded those in attendance the opportunity to ask questions and discuss their own experiences with two cabinet secretaries working for Governor Wolf.

“There are many types of financial fraud scams that target seniors,” said Secretary Osborne. “The Wolf Administration is committed to providing older Pennsylvanians with the tools they need to protect themselves from becoming the victim of financial fraud. Protection means involvement, and in order to prevent seniors from becoming victims of financial fraud, we must educate them on what these scams are, how they work and where to call for help.”  

Secretary Osborne shared with today’s audience that older adults are less likely to report financial fraud. Often they don’t realize they have been scammed or they don’t know who to report it to. In other cases, they may be too ashamed or embarrassed to report it, in part because they worry that their relatives or friends will think that they no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.

Secretary Hassell outlined the warning signs of several prevalent scams, including one that involves cyber criminals stealing client data from tax professionals and filing fraudulent tax returns in the name of identity theft victims.

Here’s the new twist: Rather than routing fraudulent tax refunds to a separate account, the criminals are directing the refunds to the taxpayers’ real bank accounts through direct deposit. They are using threatening phone calls to trick taxpayers into “returning” the refunds, but unsuspecting victims in some cases have forwarded the money to the criminals. The Department of Revenue has issued tips to avoid being victimized

“The department routinely hears from taxpayers who are in a difficult situation where their identities have been stolen,” Secretary Hassell said. “This is particularly common early in the year when Pennsylvanians are working to file their personal income tax returns. We want everyone to be aware that these scammers are out there, and that there are steps that you can take to protect your personal information.”

The Department of Revenue has published tips online to help Pennsylvanians protect their identities and personal information.

In addition, if you are a victim of identity theft or discover a fraudulent Pennsylvania personal income tax return was filed using your identity, contact the Department of Revenue’s Fraud Investigation Unit at 717-772-9297 or RA-RVPITFRAUD@pa.gov. The unit is dedicated to assisting victims of identity theft and combating tax refund fraud. The department also publishes tips for avoiding scams on Facebook.

The Department of Aging encourages any person who believes that an older adult is being financially exploited to file a confidential report with any Area Agency on Aging. You can also call the statewide abuse hotline at 800-490-8505.

Note: Video and audio of the secretaries discussing tips for Pennsylvanians to protect themselves from scams and financial exploitation will be available for download later today in an email from the Pennsylvania Internet News Service (PINS). Register for PINS emails through cms@pacast.com.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Drew Wilburne, Department of Aging, 717-705-3702

Jeffrey Johnson, Department of Revenue, 717-712-8114

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