Seniors and those with disabilities who receive rebates through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program should be aware of a scam that is specifically targeting them, says the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.
While the Department of Revenue says it does send automated calls to confirm that information from an application has been received and approved, it never asks for banking information.
If you receive an unsolicited telephone call from someone claiming to work for the Department of Revenue, who then asks for your banking information, that is a scam. The caller initially asks if the recipient would like the rebate directly deposited into a bank account. They then ask for the recipient’s banking information…DO NOT provide your banking information, cautions the Department.
“We want the public to be aware of this scam and know that the Department of Revenue does not make unsolicited calls requesting banking information,” Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell said. “We know that criminals are always looking for new ways to take advantage of Pennsylvanians, which is why it is critical for everyone to protect their financial information and be extremely cautious when they receive unsolicited phone calls.”
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is a program that provides property tax and rent relief to income-eligible seniors and people with disabilities.
Here are the Department of Revenue tips to safeguard against this scam:
- The Department of Revenue does not collect applicant’s banking information over the phone. Applicants are required to submit their bank account information on their application forms in order to receive their rebates through direct deposit.
- The Department of Revenue does contact applicants via automated calls to confirm their information has been received and approved. If the Department needs more information about an individual’s application, it sends a letter through the mail.
- Do not give out personal information over the phone to unsolicited callers, even if the caller claims to be from the Department of Revenue, the IRS or your bank.
- Do not trust the number you see on your caller ID, even if it appears to be coming from the Department of Revenue or the IRS. Scam artists increasingly use a technique known as spoofing to trick caller IDs into looking like calls are coming from legitimate businesses or government offices.
- Legitimate businesses and government agencies will not contact you to verify your account information, so ask for a call back number. Ask why your personal information is needed, how it will be used, how it will be protected, and what happens if you do not share it. Contact your bank or credit card company to confirm the call.
- If you received one of these scam calls and provided your banking information or other personal information, immediately call your bank to report this potential fraud.
The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Half of Social Security income is excluded.
The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. The Department of Revenue automatically calculates supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners.
Applicants may obtain Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim forms (PA-1000) and related information on the Department of Revenue’s website at https://bit.ly/2JsxAg3 or by calling, toll-free, 1-888-222-9190. The application deadline for rebates on rent or property taxes paid in 2018 has been extended to Dec. 31, 2019.