Scam artists often prey on the elderly and the young. This is a real report and should be taken seriously. If you are a college student, never ever give your social security number to someone you don’t know, no matter what they say.

Jody Barr of WISTV in South Carolina reports.

IRS: College students, church members targeted in tax scam

If you’re a college student, or if you’re drawing Social Security benefits, the Internal Revenue Service has a warning: you may be the target of a group of scammers.

IRS investigators say since Jan. 30, a scam wave has netted victims from at least two southern states.

“Two weeks ago, we had reports of 500 individuals who were duped out of their life savings and provided their Social Security numbers,” said IRS spokesperson Mark Green.

Green says those victims were college students and people drawing Social Security benefits. The scammer posts ads advertising a tax credit for students that doesn’t exist.

“They go to schools, colleges, advertise stating that you can get a college credit by just providing your Social Security number and your checking and savings account information,” said Green.

According to the IRS, the victim provides the information, then the crook files a tax return with it and collects it all.

Students are not the only victims, as the scammers are reaching into church congregations in Georgia and South Carolina.

“They will either visit churches, make a partnership with the pastor, talk to the congregation and provide bogus credit information to the congregation to get them to provide their Social Security numbers and their checking and savings account information, stating that they can get them a stimulus credit, which does not exist,” said Green.

So, what can you do to protect yourself? The IRS says do not give out your personal information to anyone except a reputable, trusted tax preparer.

It’s also important to not answer suspicious advertisements whether you find them on a bulletin board or on Craigslist.