If you haven’t received a call yet, you may soon. The serious voice informs you that your taxes are overdue, that legal action has been initiated by the IRS, and that you must take immediate corrective steps or law enforcement officials will arrest you. The scam has several variations but the goal remains the same. The now-quaking soul who answered the phone must scrape up a huge amount of cash, purchase a prepaid card, and pass the number of the card to the phony IRS agent who will “square things with the government”.
The scam triggered 2185 complaints to the Federal Trade Commission in 2013 and has gained momentum. In 2015 the number of reported cases soared to 95,927. Victims include all ages, races, sexes, economic levels, and educational backgrounds. The best defense citizens have is to spread the word about the scam so that others do not fall prey to these thieves.
The number of scammers will likely multiply as well as deploy more diabolical persuasive techniques now that President Obama has signed into law H.R. 22 – Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. Embedded in that road repair bill is a provision that mandates the IRS must use private tax collectors for some hard-to-collect taxes. We can only hope the administration will publish clear guidelines on how those strong-arm collectors must identify themselves and conduct their business.
To protect ourselves against IRS impostors we can remember these facts:
- The impostor may spoof caller ID data to add an air of authenticity to the call.
- The caller may know part of your Social Security Number.
- The IRS will not ask for a tax bill to be paid with a prepaid card or a wire transfer.
- The IRS will not threaten arrest.
- The IRS does not notify taxpayers of unpaid taxes or penalties using the phone.
- The IRS contacts taxpayers via mail sent to the address on record.
If you receive a call from someone posing as a representative of the IRS, don’t try to gather information from the caller. Don’t argue with him or share any personal data. Just hang up!
Call the IRS directly if you suspect there may be an issue with your taxes, 1-800-829-1040.
And, if you’re the victim of an IRS impostor scam, please report your case via one of these sites:
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, described unscrupulous men who lie in wait to ambush the innocent.
They may say, “Come and join us. Let’s hide and kill someone! Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent! Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave; let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death. Think of the great things we’ll get! We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take.”
Proverbs 1:11-13 NLT
Scamming the unsuspecting is not an invention of modern man. The techniques change as technology develops, but stealing is and always has been stealing.
Let’s share the word about the IRS impostor scam with family and friends. Warn others to be prepared in case their phone is the next one to ring.