It's that time of year again, no I'm not talking about tax time but rather time to start mowing your lawns which is exactly what I was doing when the call came in.
Caller ID showed (863)325-3282 on my caller ID. Usually I don't answer calls that I don't recognize and I should have followed my first instinct but sometimes curiosity gets the cat.
I answered the line and it said, please stay on the line, important alert. You are being notified by the IRS... (right then I was like, really?!). Last I checked the IRS doesn't call, they have a way with sending letters so immediately I was thinking to myself, IRS scammer. I was right, within about a minute the recording starting saying things like, the cops were gonna show up and arrest me for my 4 outstanding IRS issues. First of all I don't have IRS issues, secondly I know they don't call and thirdly anybody in their right mind would use a more professional term such as authorities or (wait I'll shut up and not help these scammers correct their horrible English and cultural understanding).
It's Sad Really
It truly is sad that in this day and age most of the people that fall for these scams are elderly and on fixed incomes. It must be profitable or they wouldn't do it. The people that fall for purchasing of gift cards, itunes cards, etc. really can't afford to be sending their money to these scammers but they sound "somewhat" convincing when they call. The issue here is that they shouldn't call people such as myself because I'll expose them or tie them up with pointless phone calls if needed to keep them from scamming others.
What's gonna happen now?
Well tomorrow we are gonna call these scammers back and play a little game. See what they don't realize is that I used to work at the IRS. Yep, you heard that right. For 2 years I worked with the IRS to secure their vast network resources. Not only are we gonna call these idiots, but we are gonna record it and have some fun.
So check back tomorrow to see how this little escapade evolves... And in the meantime read these tips on how to protect yourself from online and cold calling scams.
Tips and Advice - Avoiding Scams
The IRS will not call you directly, unless you have called them first and requested a call back. Secondly they will follow up any calls with letters, it's their policy and they legally have to document their correspondence with you.
These scammers typically con people into paying bogus tax bills by sending debit card payments, wired money (Western Union) or bank wire transfers (which are hard to reverse if authorized). In addition some IRS scammers are known to follow up phone calls with Phishing emails to farther try and solidify their scam as legitimate. Trust us, these scams are not legitimate. The IRS will ALWAYS send you notifications on official IRS letterhead.
Be aware that some scammers use phone spoofing of real IRS phone lines to make the calls appear as they are actually coming from the IRS. Don't fall for this as I mentioned earlier, the IRS will send letters, THEY DO NOT CALL ASKING FOR MONEY, EVER!
Callers will typically try and scare victims by saying things such as the police will be coming to arrest you (tell them to send the police, I can assure you they won't be knocking on your door). It is extremely rare for the IRS issue to result in an arrest unless fraud is involved. The fraud on this case is the person calling you so be aware that the police will not be showing up and these scare tactics are bogus.
Con men and woman try new tricks all the time. In many cases they may know information about you (after all Facebook and information services are all selling your advertising data to the highest bidder). Just because they know a family members name or other information proves nothing other than that they are getting better at what they do. These scammers use public information to try and make themselves seem legitimate. In fact earlier this week I got a call from one asking for my Ex wife whom I haven't lived with for over 20 years because she was "wanted by the FBI" for fraud. That's all fine and dandy I said, go ahead and arrest her because she probably deserves it.
Scams cost victims over $23 million dollars annually according to the Treasury Inspector General's latest report with over 736,000 scam contacts registered since October of 2013 (and these are only the ones that reported it, we are certain the number and loss amounts are much higher). Nearly 4500 victims of these calls paid over $23 million as a result of these scams.
The IRS will not:
Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.
If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:
Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” webpage. You can also call 800-366-4484.
Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.
If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:
Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.
Phone scams first tried to sting older people, new immigrants to the U.S. and those who speak English as a second language. Now the crooks try to swindle just about anyone. And they’ve ripped-off people in every state in the nation.
Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.
Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.
IRS YouTube Videos:
Until tomorrow, stay safe out there and don't fall for it! I should have not even answered but I'm glad I did and can share this advice with you.