Written by DML
I left work early today – bad chest cold got the best of me. NOTE: I will not be LIVE tonight at 6 p.m.
As I’m sitting at our kitchen table waiting for soup to boil, my cell phone rings. It’s an unfamiliar number, but it could be Jeff – we have a scheduled conference call in 15 minutes. Could it be that Jeff is calling me early? The number doesn’t look familiar but I pick up, anyway, not wanting to miss the call.
I say, “Hello?” That’s when the recording kicks in. A very official-sounding voice tells me: “This is the IRS.” The man on the recording proceeds to tell me I must call the following number immediately, as the matter is urgent and I am being sued by the IRS. He gives the number to call — I write it down. The phone disconnects.
It turns out, the callback number was the same one that showed up on my Caller ID in the first place.
I knew the call was total BS, but I can see where other people would fall for it.
First, I do not have any issues with the IRS. Second, if I did, they’d inform me by mail. I decided to call the number given to me and record it — this way, I can help the people who may not realize this scam is out there.
Keep in mind, I DID NOT CALL BACK USING THE PHONE NUMBER THEY USED CALLED ME.
I used a different line, and I disguised the number by dialing *67 before dialing. If you don’t know that trick, here’s how it works. Let’s assume you wanted to call 555-555-5555 but didn’t want your number to show up on the receiver’s ID. You’d dial *67-555-555-5555.
Below is the video I recorded. Please note, there is an incredible amount of foul language used by the man on the other end of the line once he realizes I nailed his buttocks. I don’t curse in the video, but he lays into me rather heavily. I do suggest you deal with the profanity so that you can fully understand some of the scams being conducted.
The IRS warns against these scams. I have included information from the agency to give you even more ammo with which to guard yourself. And yes, I did hand over the information I captured to the authorities.
FROM THE IRS.gov website: Protect Yourself
Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email.
Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money.
Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.
Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.
The IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
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.
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.