IRS Indicates that Scam Phone Calls are on the Rise
In the past couple of years, people posing as the IRS, have been calling taxpayers claiming that they owe unpaid tax and demand that payment be made immediately. If you have not yet had the “luxury” of receiving one of these calls, consider yourself lucky.
The manner in which these scam artists attempt to collect payment varies, but you can be assured that the options they allow run the gamut. According to the IRS, these under-handed scam artists are now requesting that payment be made in the form of gift cards including cards from Apple’s iTunes.
It is not atypical for a scam-artist to have the potential victim’s name prior to the call. When first contacting the taxpayer, they will introduce themselves and mention a specific IRS problem and tie it to a precise amount owed. They will then explain that the time allowed to make the payment has lapsed beyond what is acceptable, and that payment must be made immediately. They then go on to explain that if payment is not made, serious action will be taken which may include losing one’s State ID, losing one’s passport, damaging one’s credit or being placed in jail.
If you have received a call from one of these deviants, it may be one in a long line of calls to come. I interviewed Josh B, a taxpayer from Los Angeles, California. To date Josh has received at least a dozen of these calls (see the end of this article to find a link to read the transcript from one of Josh B’s calls with a scammer). For Josh, the calls come once every few weeks. The scammers call his cell phone which allows him to see an incoming phone number. The calls appear to come in on a “Skype” type platform. They have a US area code originating from a non-major US city lying in a smaller US State. When Josh attempts to return one of these calls using the number provided, he is able to get through to the scammer for an hour or two and then the number is disconnected and becomes unreachable.
As you may have guessed or come to learn from experience, receiving these call can be frustrating or even worse, cost you money. The IRS suggests that if you receive one of these calls you hang up immediately and contact their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page or call their hotline at (800) 366-4484. While this may be the prudent thing to do, Josh B chose to engage the scammers on his commute to work one day. By doing so, he was able to waste about 5 minutes of the scammers time, and at least temporarily kept them from scamming someone less savvy.
If you have about 5 minutes to spare, we highly recommend you read the transcript from Josh B’s call with the IRS scammer. Not only is it entertaining but you will gain a better idea of what to expect on one of these calls.
Click here to read the transcript for Josh B’s call with an IRS Scammer